When I was a young adult, I remember joining the Beatles in singing, “All you need is love.” Obviously, I didn’t sing with the Beatles, but when I was in the car with the windows up, or in the shower and nobody was around, I belted it out. The tune and the words stuck. So did the meaning. It seemed so simple and so true. All you need is love.
Yet, for me, the words of the Beatles have mellowed over the years. I have witnessed and experienced far too many relationships that started with love and then over time, spun out of control and became destructive and ugly. Somehow, some way, or someone, or some need, became greater and love was quickly replaced with a desire for that something else.
I have written a new book that will be released in November, which I am excited about, that touches on James. The first chapter in the Letter of James is a framework or outline. Without going into great detail, suffice it to say, James was a brother of Jesus and his letter, written in 45-47 AD., is the earliest New Testament correspondence found in the Bible. That is reason enough to reflect on his message. But in addition, there are all kinds of gems and powerful metaphors and verses that are as well derived from Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount. My reason for bringing this up, is James calls on the church to be mature and complete. His witness brings us to love.
The wisdom of James is deep and from his experience and link to Jesus, he understands that mature and complete love comes from God. Love is not of our own doing. It is not a self-made, man-made, or woman-made project. Love is a gift from God. In fact, the Bible says, “God is love” (I John 4:16). God is the source of love.
As a result of this deeper, spiritual understanding, I now look back at the Beatles song and though it still is a catchy tune for those of us who enjoy the music of the sixties, I strongly believe, “all you need is God.” That’s now my song. That’s how I live. That’s how I love.
What I have learned over the years is love can’t go it alone. Love on its’ own, often turns selfish, or self-centered, and rather than being mature and complete, love becomes immature and incomplete. Without a spiritual understanding of love as received from God, we are left only with our desires, wants and a psycho-pleasure principle. From James and through my faith it is apparent that love needs a ruler, a guide, or some sense of purpose and direction.
God gives us Jesus as our ruler and guide who provides purpose and direction for love. From Jesus, we learn about love as agape. This is what makes Christian love mature and complete. Agape love is self-giving, sacrificial, and above all, sacred.
We lack nothing. God’s love is everything. Go ahead and sing it, “all you need is God.”