In these heartbreaking times, it’s easy to question where the world is going and to search for hope, goodness and truth in it all.
But that can lead to painful questions. What is truth when somebody is callously killed? What is truth when unrest and turmoil sweep across cities? What is truth when disease ravages nations? What is truth when new headlines seep into your thoughts, wearing down your well-being and upending your balance?
Here we are, in the throes of chaos, hurting at the result, wondering what is truth in all this?
It’s a question that goes back thousands of years. The serpent questioned truth in the Garden of Eden. Pontius Pilate asked what it is when Jesus was on trial. Philosophers like Plato and Friedrich Nietzsche have dissected the concept and attempted to define it.
Ultimately, I’ve found the only foundation of truth that remains stable in turbulent times is Jesus.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6)
If Jesus is truth, what did He teach? In its simplest form, His message can be summed up in one word: Love.
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NLT)
Love God. Love your neighbor. Jesus didn’t hesitate to highlight the importance of both these commandments. You can’t truly love God if you don’t love your neighbor. And it appears evident that our world has failed terribly in loving our neighbors.
But what is love? The Greek language has multiple terms for love, which we as humans display and receive. Selfless agape love that gives itself for another. Brotherly philea love that supports and encourages. Intimate eros love that bonds a couple. Familial storge love that parents feel for their children.
But perhaps the most beautiful explanation of love comes from Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which I’ve taken the liberty to separate into bullet points.
- Love is patient
- Love is kind
- Love does not envy
- Love does not boast
- Love is not proud
- Love does not dishonor others
- Love is not self-seeking
- Love is not easily angered
- Love keeps no record of wrongs
- Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
- Love always protects
- Love always trusts
- Love always hopes
- Love always perseveres
- Love never fails
Jesus was the perfect demonstration of love. His love didn’t discriminate between race, class, sect or ability.
He showed love to everybody. He went out of His way to listen, to show personal attention to individuals who were desperate or hurting. He heard the call of the helpless. He saw the oppressed.
We must follow Jesus’ example and love our fellow humans in this world. When we are filled with God’s perfect love, that love overflows to those we encounter. And that is what Jesus desires, because perfect love has the power to cast out fear.
But an important part of the love equation is the fact that in order to love your neighbor as yourself, you must first love yourself. And, let’s be honest, that can be difficult sometimes. You might not think you deserve love — from God, from others or from yourself. Perhaps you’ve never experienced the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. If not, my friend, be encouraged.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NKJV) And that’s exactly what Jesus did for you. Even in your imperfection, Jesus loved you enough to die for you, to save you, to give you hope.
“God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 NLT)
Jesus loved you enough to die for you. He loved your neighbor enough to die for her and him. So, let’s learn from Him and actively share God’s love with ourselves and with others.