Dick Van Dyke in his book My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business addresses the three essentials to a happy life according to Buddha.
You need to find a work to do.
You need to find something to love.
You need to find something to hope for.
DVD (interesting initials, ’ey?) states the importance of love throughout the book. He loved his children. He loved his wife. He loved his mistress. He loved, loved, loved everyone. Without love, you may have money but you aren’t worth anything.
On the importance of love, Dick Van Dyke and I agree. In fact, Paul states as much when he wrote: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13 NIV).
But, at some point in the discussion, I believe we would part ways. I can’t be certain, but, in listening to the book’s audio version, I sensed Dick’s advice would be simply this. “You just need to love.”
Nebulous? You bet your knickers. It’s as substantial as smoke from a burning dumpster. And, the advice stinks just as much.
Because it makes the human heart bow at the wrong altar.
Here are a few biblical thoughts about love.
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God …” and “Love your neighbor as yourself …” (see Mark 12:28-34).
Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commands …” and “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching …” (see John 14:15-21)
John wrote, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:7-8 NIV).
Let me summarize a few points.
First, love begins with God. He is the source of our love.
Years ago, three friends and I spent a week hiking high in the Rockies. Even in the late summer, snow streaked the mountain peaks. The snow melted and ran down fissures. At some point, the many crevices converged to make a small stream; streams merged; and a river formed. I remember stepping across the Colorado River, or rather its slim source in the mountains, in one bound. The great river that carved out the Grand Canyon traced its beginnings back to the heights.
For all love, whether human or other worldly, we find the source in the heights of God and His character.
Second, love flows to others. Borrowing from the title of Gayle Sayers’ book, when it comes to love, I am third. Having received from God, I respond to Him and to His creation in love. I love God. I love others.
Jesus would even extend that love to those I would deem my enemy. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:43-45 NIV).
Third, love involves obedience. Especially when it comes to that love-your-enemy thing, I hesitate when it comes to defining love based on God as its source and obedience as its practical application. I’d rather stick with Dick Van Dyke’s thin-as-smoke definition of love. I want to justify my poor attitude or bad behavior toward an unworthy, despicable human being (which loosely translated means the guy who treats me poorly and I don’t like the treatment).
I recently listened to an audio version of Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand (I’d highly recommend this book). During World War II, the Japanese held Louis Zamperini captive for over two years. During his captivity, he and other P.O.W.’s were brutalized and humiliated, treated worse than mongrel dogs.
After the war ended, he suffered nightmares, drank heavily, and hated the Japanese soldiers who had mistreated him. Then he came to faith in Christ through the gospel preaching of Billy Graham.
A few years later, he returned to Japan and spoke to a camp full of Japanese war criminals. When his former captors stood and came forward to meet with Louis, he ran to them and hugged them. The love of Christ compelled him to respond with grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
I’m curious. How would you define love in a more substantial way? Drawing from the merciful streams which flow from on high, who would you love today?
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