What’s love got to do with public life?

9 March 2020

In our new series running up to Easter, Stand and Speak, Andrea Williams comments on how love is what compels us to put Jesus at the heart of society.

Christian Concern wants to put the love of Jesus at the heart of society.

But what’s love got to do with public life? Isn’t Christian Concern about politics, laws and public policy?

We often think of these areas as cold realities untouched by concepts like love. It would be a stretch to describe love as the primary characteristic shown by MPs, civil servants or judges as they go about their work. But the connection between these parts of society and love is stronger than we often recognise.

Jesus himself drew attention to love as the principle underlying all of the law of Moses:

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 22:34-40)

The Old Testament law contains all kinds of rules. Even the ten commandments cover disparate areas of life: how the Israelites were to worship God, how they were to structure their weeks, how they were to relate to parents. They contained fundamental laws for society like ‘you shall not murder’ but also rules governing peoples’ thoughts (‘you shall not covet’). The fuller law of Moses covers topics as diverse as agriculture, clothing, ceremonial cleanliness, sexual relations, criminal justice and architecture.

Yet Jesus says that all of this law hangs on two great commandments: love God with all that you have and love your neighbour as yourself.

God’s law is love applied.

Good law is love applied.

What kind of love?

In the wider culture, ‘love’ very often means sexual attraction. But what Jesus means, and what we mean, is a deep care (or ‘concern’ – hence our name) for others. Love that isn’t focused on getting something back, but is willing to seek another’s good even at great cost.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8 ESV)

Jesus is – again – our great example. He demonstrated God’s love for us by being willing to die on a Roman cross, despised as a ‘man of sorrows’.

It’s Christ-shaped love that we aspire to. We can never match up to what he did for us. We can never earn his love. But we long be like him, willing to give up our own comfort to see others do well.

That’s why we sometimes say things that no one else will say – not for the sake of being controversial but because love demands it. We’re willing, like Jesus, to be hated, if that’s what it takes to show genuine love to people.

If we critique other religions – say Islam or atheistic humanism – it’s not because we hate people who hold to these beliefs. It’s because God’s plan for humanity is better than these rival ideologies. We want people to see that and to embrace Jesus instead.

It’s not about Christians vs everyone else. We’re not a special interest group seeking privileges for Christians. We’re a Christian group seeking the best for everyone – living God’s way.

Even when we’re talking about ‘Christian freedom’ – the freedom for Christians to be authentically Christian throughout their lives – it’s a means to an end. It’s when Christians are joyful ambassadors of Heaven that we are best able to help others recognise how good God is.

Stand and speak

We want to be Christlike, showing love for God and for others in all that we do.

Like everyone else, we fall short of this standard. But we delight when we see the whole Christian Concern family demonstrating this love. When they take risks by telling people about Jesus where it might not be welcome. When they stand firm and refuse to disobey God under pressure. When they share a Biblical post on social media that might unfairly lead When they pray for their enemies.

Christ’s love compels us. Will you stand and speak for Jesus?

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