Love in Christianity
Love is the central theme of the teaching of Jesus.
For many people, I Corinthians 13 is one of the greatest chapter of the Bible. Because of its beautiful lyrical phrases in praise of love, it is frequently read, in whole or in part, at Christian weddings worldwide. In addition to I Corinthians 13, there is another great "Love Chapter" in the Bible, John 13. It was here that Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34, 35) In the three following chapters (John 14-16), we find John's concentration of teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit. Again in the middle of Chapter 15, Jesus reiterates the love command, "Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (15:12,13) This idea is repeated in the "other" John 3:16, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
It is noteworthy that this idea of the importance of love
finds agreement among all of the large, popular religions
of the world. Here's a brief sampling:
"You shall not hate your brother in your
heart . . . but you shall love your neighbor as yourself;
I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:17-18) However, for the
Jewish people, this love was not restricted to their own
people. "The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you
as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself;
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Lev 19:34).
"Human beings can live in blessing and kindness so
long as they love each other, show trust-worthiness, and
behave according to truth and fairness. Love is enduring
and patient and kind. It judges all things with the heart,
not the mind. And love can transform the most common place
into beauty and splendor and sweetness and grace. For love
is unselfish, giving more than it takes, being unconditional
and unhampered by environment. Love never forsakes, it is
faithful and trusting, truthful. It is guileless and honest
and never deceiving. Love is Allah's Divine Gift."
One of the four ends of life is Kama, which like
Cupid, is a personalized god of love with flower-bow and
five flower arrows, sending desire quivering into the
heart. In general, love in Hinduism plays a determinative
role in the whole religious practice; family love, married
love and all secular forms of love are subordinate to the
"Never is this world appeased by hatred; it is
only appeased by love - this is an eternal law."
(Dhammapada, The Way of Righteousness - 3-5, 201).
"There are three basic precious treasures which
I would preserve forever: love, frugality, and humility.
Love creates courage - love can win when fighting, and also
can defend a position strongly. Heaven would save those
who have love." (By founder Lao Zi, Ch. 67).
"Ren" (translated as love, goodness,
heartedfulness, or humaneness) is a central concept and
starting point. Ren is the determinative principle for the
harmony, balance and equilibrium among human beings. Love
is a duty, a virtue, a moral conduct, a rational choice,
and a social responsibility.
Although we certainly agree that not all religions are
created equal, we can point to the universality of this
persuasion that love is championed worldwide.