Which is it – faith, or love?
Jesus says clearly that it is love.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt 22)
But he also says we must believe.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mk 16)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believesw in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3)
There are many examples of this in the Bible.
Paul, for example, argues that “The only thing that counts is faith working through love.” (Gal 5:6) “The only thing” – as if it were just one thing.
James makes a related argument – “I will show you my faith by my works” (such as providing food or clothing for the needy). (James 2:18)
Isaiah beats the same drum.
“Is not this the kind of fasting [worship, expression of faith] I have chosen:
- to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
- to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
- Is it not to share your food with the hungry
- and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
- when you see the naked, to clothe them,
- and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Isaiah 58:6-9)
Sooooooo. It’s LOVE!
But if you believe that – actually invest yourself in it – then THAT IS “faith.” That giving of one’s heart IS faith. Is it not? What else would spiritual, moral, personality-changing faith be?
Ready for this? Faith and Love are One and the Same Thing
See what I mean? Love is a choice. It is not forced, and it is not just an idea. It is a choice about what matters to us, what we will invest in, how we will live, regardless.
You can’t “prove” that love’s a necessary or even intelligent choice; many think that’s not a wise way to live. “That’s not how life is, it’s stupid.” That is, that even though a very strong rational argument can be made for love as the ultimate religious act, the ultimate value, many people will disagree – or just choose to ignore it anyway. So it is a choice. And it’s a faith about the ultimate value, the ultimate reality.
So, to love is an act of profound faith, deepest faith. And if you are religious, it’s faith in the “Higher Power”, the great reality of the universe. Faith that God is Love. Investment in that believed-in Reality.
It is NOT faith in some church, or preacher, or hoped-for event, or some big theology book’s explanations. Those things are only tangentially relevant, if at all, to this BIG issue!
LOVE is the CRUCIAL THING!
But choosing to believe that, and live by it, is the ultimate act of faith! It honors God, and it blesses the world.
So the way the Bible kinda mixes these two things together is not really surprising.
- It takes faith to love love.
- It takes faith to believe in love.
- Seeing Jesus is seeing love in action, so believing in Jesus is believing in that value and lifestyle.
- If, as John says, “God is love”, then believing in love is believing in God.
- If, as Jesus teaches, both love and faith are THE core necessity, then living in love and living in faith are at bottom identical.
How about that?!Sooooooo. It’s LOVE! But if you believe that - actually invest yourself in it - then THAT IS “faith.” That giving of one's heart IS faith. Is it not? What else would spiritual, moral, personality-changing faith be?Click To Tweet