On June 25, 1967, the Beatles participated in the first worldwide TV special called “Our World”. During this special, the Beatles introduced “All You Need is Love”; one of their most famous and recognizable songs. In it, John Lennon with Paul McCartney spelled out the mantra of the anti-war-pro-peace-youth of their day with the slogan: “Love is all you need”.
The “love” of the sixties generation has become the philosophical foundation of our moral scene which affirms, “if it feels good, then do it”; accordingly, love is suppose to be of the non-judgmental variety. For example, as long as two lovers are cohabitating out of “love”, then it is intolerant and unloving to openly speak against it.
Love of this kind is a license to practice, or behave any way we want never mind the moral implications; specifically, because there is only one moral guide – love that feels good and is non-judgmental. According to this line of reasoning, neighbor has no ability to judge another person.
Is Lennon and those like him right? Who would have the audacity to disagree with the countless masses who believe “love is all you need”? Enter Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God. The Gospel Accounts reveal that He taught that love is not extended in a vacuum, there are at the very least two relationships involved which are necessary components to living out love.
When asked about the “greatest commandment” that God had given to mankind in the Scriptures, Jesus said the following words:
You shall love the Lord you God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love you neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22.36-39, Mark 12.29-31; Deut. 6.4-5, Lev. 19.18)
Jesus said that living out love is built upon two relationships: (1) our relationship with God, (2) our relationship with our neighbor. In this way, Jesus summarizes the commandments and themes of the Old Testament regarding God, his Word, and our life in balance to them.
According to Jesus, the Scriptures teach that “feeling” is not enough; but instead, a relationship with God and neighbor is based upon a love (agape) that (1) does what is right as the Lord’s Scriptures teach it, and (2) does what is in the best interest of another, independent of a desire to receive anything in return.
Despite its popularity, Lennon’s song needs revision. Love is not all we need; we need love that is lived out in the framework of God’s Word, our relationship with Him, and our relationship with our neighbor:
By this we know we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments… whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected… if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 2.3, 5, see vv. 3-7; 4.11)
Contrary to the belief of some well intended souls, love and commands are not mutually exclusive. Commands are issued from God’s love, and we obey these commandments out our love to Him, and consequently, we love others because we have experienced God’s love and want others to be enraptured in this love. For those seeking a biblical Christian experience, this is the love we need.
- D. Turner and D.L. Bock, Matthew and Mark (Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale, 2005) 287. “After citing these two texts, Jesus stated that all of the law and prophets depend (lit. “hang”) on them. In other words, the entire OT may be viewed as an exposition of the ideals expressed in these two verses.”