Scripture tells us “God is love,” and that God’s love was most profoundly shown through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (1 John 4:16; John 3:16; 1 John 3:16). At one point in my walk I wondered: Is Jesus the historical person important? Or is it just the spirit of love He demonstrated that matters? There was something appealing about this thought. It felt revelatory, like Jesus the person was a curtain being drawn aside. Behind this curtain was the real truth—not Jesus but a universal love that Jesus represented.
Was I on to something? I prayed. As I prayed, the Spirit impressed these verses on my mind: “Every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist” (1 John 4:2-3). Here was a defining idea: Love is not an abstract or universal. Love was born in the middle east—in Bethlehem—around 5 BC. Love came as a certain sex (male), was of Hebrew ethnicity, and lived His whole life in Israel. Love worked in the trade of carpentry. After that, He embarked on a brief public ministry and was executed on charges of insurrection. So when Christians talk of love, they mean something, or rather Someone, concrete and specific. To think you can distill some essence of love from the flesh and blood of Jesus is, as John says, antichrist. (No matter what the peace-niks tell you).
I was reminded of all this today while reading about someone on the internet. This person believes “All you need is love”—a philosophy extracted from Buddha, Bahuallah, Lao Tze, and a Christian sect. (Oh yeah, and the Beatles). This type of love sure is popular these days. Like the Beatles, it is more popular than Jesus (to quote John Lennon). It is a gaseous vagary, capable of conforming to any shape or form. There’s no meat to it, nothing you can get ahold of or sink your teeth into. It is, as the cliché goes, like nailing JELL-O to the wall. But real Love was a man who could be nailed to a cross. God is *this* Love, “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on and our hands have handled” (1 John 1:1).