A few years ago when I was teaching a module at All Nations on Christian Theology, About half way through the term, one of the students put her hand up and said, "Paul, in your theology it's all about the the lurve". This got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that she was right, it is all about love.
Love is such an all-encompassing concept in the Bible. In the NIV the word, in English, is mentioned 686 times. This translates a number of Hebrew and Greek words with different shades of meaning from romantic or erotic love to affection and even self-sacrificial love. Every New Testament book, except Acts, contains a word translated "love".
Love, however, is a word that is used in so many ways in our culture--even wider than Greek meanings. We can love everything from our husband or wife, parents, children, etc. right down to ice-cream and summer days! I don't think we are talking about the same quality of love in each case. I might fight to protect the person I love but am unlikely to utilize violence if you steal my walnut whip!
Today's culture seems to limit love to sexual or erotic love. 50 Shades of Grey is portrayed as "a love story". The film subtitle of the film Love Story is "Love means never having to say you're sorry". I don't know about you but I think I apologize to my wife more than anybody! Romeo and Juliette is the classic "love story" where love of the lover surpasses familial loyalties and ends in tragedy where this "pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life".
For Christian belief, love holds a very high place and could be seen as that which makes sense of our belief in Jesus the Messiah.
What is love? What does the Bible say about it? This week we will reflect on some of what the Old Testament says about love; what Jesus says about love in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke); what Paul says about love and finally what John says about it.