Summary: Love is only effective and truly Christian love when it is built on the foundation of all the other virtues. As soon as this is forgotten love becomes sentimental, and is reduced to an emotion, and its power is gone.
Tradition says that John the Apostle of love was carried to the
Christian assembly when he was so old he could not walk, and his
constant advice was, "Children love one another." When he was
asked why he told them one thing all the time he replied that nothing
else was needed. On the other hand, William Morris wrote a song
titled Love Is Enough, and a critic reviewed it very briefly by
writing, "It isn't." It is no real problem to chose between these two
points of view, because love is such a complex subject that it is filled
with paradoxes, and just about anything can be true about love.
God is love; therefore, love is a subject that gets us into the
infinite. We do not have to even approach that, however, to
recognize its complexity. It is important that we grow in our
understanding of the complexity of love, for only as we do can be
avoid blunders, and gain blessings connected with love. A man came
to John Wesley and asked him about a certain woman well known to
both of them. Wesley advised him not to marry her. "Why not"
was his question, "for she is a member in good standing in your
church isn't she?" He admitted it but said, "The Lord can live with
a great many people you and I can't." Lesley was wise, and
recognized that even romantic love and brotherly love combined
does not guarantee compatibility. Love is not enough.
The fact that the New Testament places it at the top as the
highest and most valuable virtue does not contradict this. The fact
that having all else without love is to be nothing does not mean if you
have love all else is unnecessary. Peter does not imply that after love
is added you can neglect all the other virtues. This is like saying,
after you get the top story built, you could knock the rest of the
building down. Love is only effective and truly Christian love when
it is built on the foundation of all the other virtues. As soon as this is
forgotten love becomes sentimental, and is reduced to an emotion,
and its power is gone. But when love is bold, knowledgeable,
persevering, godly, and extended in all directions, upward to God,
outward to others, and inward to self, then it can be said, love is
enough. Love is only enough when it is complete, and it is complete
when it includes everything of value, which is equivalent to saying
everything is enough.
This becomes clear as we study love from a scientific point of
view as Sorokin does in his book The Ways And Power Of Love. He
has established the fact that love has five dimensions, and all five are
Biblical, and they put love on a level where it can be measured. The
first dimension of love is-
Love, like faith, is a matter of degree. To say a man has love is not
much more revealing than to say he has a temperature. It could be
normal or high or even low. If you say he has 105 degrees, that
reveals much, and the difference is in the intensity. So it is with love.
A man might feed the pigeons, and give up his seat on the bus, and,
therefore, be described as having love, but this is love of a very low
intensity. Love can be so low it is at the zero mark, and describes
one who just does not hurt anyone, but may be indifferent to going
out of his way to help anyone. When one's acts fall below this he is
in the realm of hate. Love grows in intensity as higher values in life
are involved. If I give of my money I love in greater intensity than if
I merely pity. If I give of my time and risk my health to aid another
I love with greater intensity yet, and if I sacrifice my life for others I
love with the greatest intensity. Jesus confirms this, for He says
greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for a friend.
Jesus, therefore, loved us with the greatest intensity possible, in that
he died for us. Many have followed Christ in this dimension, and
have loved with the highest intensity by giving their lives for others.
However, as we go on we shall see that no one has been able to
follow Him in all dimensions of love. Intensity is measured by the
value of the sacrifice made for another.
In intensity, love can go from zero to infinity, which is the love of
God. In extensity, love can go from love of one-yourself, to love of