Love is the central ethic of the teachings of Jesus. He, Himself, said that it was the greatest of the commands given to man and that it was the lynchpin, the hinge, for all other biblical ethics; And it is such an elegant hinge.
It’s functional. It is a working ethic. It informs my response to great questions. Look at the poverty issue in this country. Love says I must take care of my fellow man. Love says that I must teach him to take care of himself. Love says I must preserve his dignity and freedom. Now that’s the cornerstone for a national response: not left wing, not right wing, but well, love wing.
Love is situational in application but not in form. Too many situations that we find ourselves in have no black and white answer, so we respond either by ignoring the problem until it destroys us or we try to apply some harder, ‘non-situational,’ lesser ethic to them. But love is flexible so long as it puts the needs of the other ahead of my own needs and thoughts and ideas. When I apply love to an argument with a friend it can lead to an apology from me, or forgiveness or an intervention; any of these could be a possible implementation of love depending on the situation and after careful consideration.
Love is universal. It is one ethic that is not dependent on culture. Love is hardwired into every person who is not damaged to a point of complete non-attachment and even then it can be recovered and taught.
I am giving simple illustrations because of space but would love to respond to your comments.
For me, this central ethic of Christ, “Love God, Love Others,” and the rest of His teachings which can be found in the Gospels, (especially look at Matthew 5-7) point out the first thing I need to know about a great teacher, does his teaching make sense? Is it plausible and practical? Can I apply it to my life?
When I add in the entire Judeo-Christian ethical context I become even more convinced. Look, of the three broadest ethical world views, the Far Eastern religious context rejects the material part of the universe and embraces only the spiritual; the modern Western viewpoint, materialism, rejects the spiritual; the Judeo-Christian embraces both the physical and the spiritual as part of our lives. There is no way to simply prove this, but to me, it seems obvious that both things exist, or at least could exist.
Finally, when I look at the historical effect of Jesus’ teachings on the world (notice I said His teaching, not Christianity as a whole) I see a change in direction that occurs at the Gospels and leads to everything that is good in our society: The rise of women and children to equal status; The beginning of the end of racism and our responsibility to the poor, just to name a few. I am always amused by my right and left leaning brothers shouting at each other while forgetting that their most cherished ideals, on both sides, stem from the same source.
In any case, at the end of the discussion, there is love. (See the Apostle Paul’s take on love, here) Love demands freedom. Love pursues and holds on. Love takes the long view not the easy score. Love as an ethic will change your life and so I looked from the lesson, to the Teacher.
The old hymn says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood (love and sacrifice) and righteousness (ethics).” One path to Christ begins at the acknowledgment of truth, and if He speaks the truth about life………