“The Greatest Love of All”
“Love” has so many different meanings in English; it’s easy to get confused. To cut through the fog, let’s distinguish the greatest love of all so we can lift it above the many lesser forms of love that attract our attention.
Here is one attempt, captured in the lyrics of a hit song in 1986, titled, The Greatest Love of All:
The greatest love of all is happening to me.
I have the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to achieve.
Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.
(Witten by Linda Creed and Michael Masser, 1977)
The greatly talented Whitney Houston made this song a big hit and once called it her favorite. Later in the same song, she sings, “I never will stand in anyone’s shadow.”
Christianity and popular culture do not see eye to eye when it comes to the greatest love of all. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). He also told us to deny ourselves… “daily.” (Luke 9:23).
But the self-denial Jesus demands has nothing to do with self-hatred. It simply rises from knowing where not to place our hope. Looking inside, Christians see helplessness and hopelessness. We are glad that God has not left us to ourselves. We are eternally grateful that He reached out to us first with His sacrificial love—the greatest love of all. Ask Jesus if that was “easy to achieve.”
In-reaching love has its place, but out-reaching love is greater. There is genuine greatness in soldiers, spouses, parents, grandparents, teachers, nurses, pastors, missionaries and many others giving their all in unselfish service far from the spotlights of our popular culture.
Jesus came not to be served, “but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28). His followers also seek to serve with hearts willing to live in the shadow of another, always standing in the shadow of Jesus’ cross.
The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.