Do you remember Tina Turner who performed that hit song, “What’s love got to do with it?” Born and raised in a small Tennessee town, Tina was known back then as Anna Mae Bullock.
Anna Mae grew up in an unhappy family, and later her parents left town with her sister and abandoned her with her grandmother. Following her grandmother’s death, she went to live in St. Louis and was reunited with her mother and close sister Alline.
Anna Mae pursued a chance to be a professional singer after seeing charismatic bandleader Ike Turner perform one night. Later she won a spot in Turner’s band after singing onstage and he began mentoring her. In time, an unexpected romance develops between the two after she moved into Ike’s home. Shortly afterwards, they married and began having musical success together as Ike and Tina Turner.
However the marriage turned violent when Ike Turner started physically dominating her, giving her no chance to escape. In public, Tina Turner rose from local St. Louis phenomenon into an R&B superstar with Ike Turner growing increasingly jealous of the attention given to her. Ike turns to drugs and his abusive behaviour worsens.
As Tina sought solace in her chaotic life, a friend turns her onto Buddhism, eventually convincing her that it will help “change her life”. Tina grew increasingly confident afterwards and in a final fight with Ike she mustered the courage to defend herself, eventually leaving Ike after they arrive at a hotel.
Winning the right to retain her stage name after their divorce, Tina continued working to pay bills. She gets a break after meeting Roger Davies, who eventually helps her realise her dreams of rock stardom.
Despite Ike’s attempts to win her back, Tina Turner eventually prevails and finds solo success, accomplishing her dreams without Ike. One of the songs she recorded after the breakup with Ike is titled, “What’s love got to do with it?” The chorus goes like this:
‘Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it. What’s love but a second hand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it, who needs a heart when a heart can be broken.
What's love got to do with it?
What's love got to do with being a Christian?
About the middle of the first century in the city of Corinth known as the most immoral city in the world at that time God had convicted a number of both Jews and Gentiles about their sinful ways and they had responded to his love and mercy and had given their lives to His Son, Jesus Christ.
The convicting power was the gospel preached among them by the apostle Paul who lived with them for at least a year and a half teaching them about what being a Christian meant.
No doubt he spoke to them about the commandments that Jesus said were the greatest – love your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbour as yourself.
But, after he left them some problems arose. They began forming cliques around different leaders; they began to tolerate sexual immorality; they began to question God’s view of marriage; they began to take each other to court; they forgot the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and they had differences of opinions about spiritual gifts.
It seems on the surface that they had forgotten about Jesus’ commands and love had taken a back seat. In effect they were saying, “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love got to do with being a Christian?” So, Paul, in his usual efficient way tells them what love has to do with being a Christian.
So, what's love got to do with it? Everything!
In his book ‘Freedom of Simplicity’ Richard J. Foster wrote: “In the period following the Apostolic Age, there was an exuberant caring and sharing on the part of Christians that was unique in antiquity. Julian the apostate, an enemy of Christianity, admitted that “the godless Galileans fed not only their (poor) but ours also.”
Tertullian wrote that the Christians’ deeds of love were so noble that the pagan world confessed in astonishment, ‘See how they love one another.’
So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything! For if there is no Christlike love then there is no visible sign of Christianity. Christianity doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it can’t exist in a vacuum because we live in the real world.
We cannot divorce ourselves from the real world and so it is to the real world, and that includes those who believe in Christ and those who don’t that love must be shown.
Christlike love is patient and kind
And that included the Christians in Corinth who had gotten themselves so puffed up about their own spiritual gifts to the point where the whole church scene became a competition. They had become impatient with one another and were saying ‘you need to keep up with me because I am spiritually more advanced than you.’
So they are told quite rightly, that even if you have the power to speak lots of languages, some which you know and some which you don’t, and even if you can converse in the language of angels it’s all just show unless you show Christlike love to those around you. That means that it’s not about theology and it’s not about doctrine but it’s about love.
The command that Jesus gave his disciples was not about having the correct doctrine; it was not about the correct gifts; it was all about love. Remember what he said: ‘My command is this; Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.’ (John 15:12-13)
According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man weary from age and journey, coming toward him. Abraham rushed out, greeted him, and then invited him into his tent.
There he washed the old man’s feet and gave him food and drink. The old man immediately began eating without saying any prayer or blessing. So Abraham asked him, “Don’t you worship God?” The old traveller replied, “I worship fire only and reverence no other god.”
When he heard this, Abraham became incensed, grabbed the old man by the shoulders, and threw him out of his tent into the cold night air.
When the old man had departed, God called to his friend Abraham and asked where the stranger was. Abraham replied, “I forced him out because he did not worship you.”
God answered, “I have been patient with him for the last eighty years although he dishonours me. Could you not be patient with him one night?”
So what’s love got to do with it – more than most of us understand and Christlike love is patient and kind, it doesn’t force itself on others but allows them to catch up and it allows us to learn from them.
So what's love got to do with it? Plenty!
Hudson Taylor was scheduled to speak at a Large Presbyterian church in Melbourne. The moderator of the service introduced the missionary in eloquent and glowing terms.
He told the large congregation all that Taylor had accomplished in China, and then presented him as “our illustrious guest.”
Taylor stood quietly for a moment, and then opened his message by saying, “Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.” (W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching and Preachers, p. 243.)
What an illustration of Christlike love.
I guess that’s why Paul also told the Corinthians that even if God has revealed his mysteries to you, even if he has gifted you to explain his plan of salvation, even if God has given you full knowledge of himself and faith to believe for anything its all nothing if you don’t show Christlike love to others.
So, what’s love got to do with it? Plenty because Christlike love does not envy, does not boast and is not proud.
Ronald Reagan – Photo from library-of-congress-2hAb4ChULcA-unsplash
Love is not rude and it is not self-seeking or easily angered
One of the dangers of preaching is in thinking that you have all the answers and that God wants you to show the people how brilliant you are.
Ronald Reagan, the actor who became President of the United States of America was recalling an occasion when he was governor of California and made a speech in Mexico City.
He said this: “After I had finished speaking, I sat down to rather unenthusiastic applause, and I was a little embarrassed. The speaker who followed me spoke in Spanish — which I didn’t understand — and he was being applauded about every paragraph.
To hide my embarrassment, I started clapping before everyone else and longer than anyone else until our ambassador leaned over and said, ‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you. He’s interpreting your speech.'” (Quoted by Gerald Gardner in All the Presidents’ Wits (Morrow), in Reader’s Digest.)
Unfortunately there are leaders in the Christian church who are so full of themselves and their own importance that they become rude and self-seeking and they do it because they have put their own importance before the command to show Christlike love to all.
What’s love got to do with it? Love is not rude and it is not self-seeking or easily angered.
Christlike love keeps no record of wrongs
There was a time when armies carried cannonballs with them, afraid they would meet the enemy somewhere and have nothing to shoot at it. In terms of specific gravity, grudges are about as heavy as cannonballs. But it makes little sense to carry them.
Most likely, the “enemy” is unaware of your enmity, and surely would be surprised to learn that you’ve been stalking him with a cannonball in your pocket.
So we need to examine our grudges and do what armies do when hostilities are over: unload the cannonballs and stack them on the courthouse lawn. Then marvel at how much easier it is to get around. In essence, a grudge is a memory made of something that someone may have said or done against you.
Over the years you get to hear of people in church who won’t mix with others because of something that happened long ago. And those people become dry and shrivel up and are of no use to anyone, least of God.
John Stott, in his book ‘The Contemporary Christian’ gave a great illustration of this.
He wrote: ‘Not long before she died in 1988, in a moment of surprising candour on television, Marghanita Laski, one of Britain’s best-known secular humanists and novelists, said, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.”
What’s love got to do with it? Well Christlike love keeps no record of wrongs instead it forgives and forgets.
Christlike love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth
I came across a humorous story which goes like this: ‘Two men worked on a large ocean-going vessel.
One day the mate, who normally did not drink, became intoxicated. The captain, who hated him, entered in the daily log: “Mate drunk today.” He knew this was his first offense, but he wanted to get him fired.
The mate was aware of his evil intent and begged him to change the record. The captain, however, replied, “It’s a fact, and into the log it goes!”
A few days later the mate was keeping the log, and concluded it with: “Captain sober today.” Realising the implications of this statement, the captain asked that it be removed. In reply the mate said, “It’s a fact, and in the log it stays!”
Both of the men were out to do evil to the other – they did not delight in the truth.
I know a pastor in a previous church who always took matters the wrong way. He never took the time to find out the truth of a matter before jumping to a conclusion.
At one time one of the men in the church was accused of making disparaging remarks about a disabled member and it seems that everyone knew about this accusation except the man himself.
Finally, at a face to face meeting between the pastor and this man and with a third party in attendance the issue behind the accusation was discussed and the pastor came to see that by his actions he had not rejoiced in the truth.
Happily the issue was resolved and peace was restored. What was the cause of the problem? Christian love was put to one side.
What’s love got to do with it? Christlike love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Christlike Love never fails
Let me briefly mention five other things about Christlike love – the love that Jesus commanded us to show.
First, it will always protect. The Greek word translated in the NIV as protect means to ‘roof over,’ or ‘to cover with silence.’ The Contemporary English Bible translates it ‘Love is always supportive.’ I doubt that there is one of us here today who has never made a slip-up in our life as a Christian. It may be a lapse into drink; it may be a lapse in morals; it may be losing our temper over something trivial. Whatever it is the last thing we want is for others to hear about it. Christlike love will never be party to broadcasting the faults of others because Christlike love will cover it with silence.
Second, it always trusts or has faith in others. Christlike love always endeavours to see the best in a person and overlooks the faults.
Third, love always hopes. It’s about saying to ourselves ‘I don’t know if this person will ever change but I’m willing to go on loving them hoping that there will be growth and renewal.’
Do you remember the story of Pandora’s Box in Greek Mythology? The lovely Pandora was sent by Zeus to be the bride of Epimetheus. One of Pandora’s more endearing charms was her curiosity, but that quality also proved to nearly be her undoing.
One day Mercury, the messenger, sent a box to the young couple. It was meant for them to enjoy, but under no circumstances were they to open it. Well, of course, it is the old story of the forbidden fruit. Told that she could not do it, it became the thing that she desired to do the most.
So one day she pried it open and peeked inside. Suddenly out flew swarms of insects that began attacking them. Both lovers were stung with the poison of suspicion, hatred, fear and malice.
Now the once happy couple began to argue. Epimetheus became bitter and Pandora wept with a broken heart. But in the midst of the quarrelling, they heard a tiny voice cry out: Let me out, to sooth your pain.
Fearfully they opened the box again, and this time a beautiful butterfly flew out. It touched the couple and miraculously their pain was healed and they were happy again.
The butterfly we are told was hope. It is hope that sustains us; it is hope.
And fourth, it always perseveres. Christlike love hangs on, it is tenacious, it never gives up on a person. It reminds us of God’s love which he continues to lavish upon us even when we forget to love him back.
Finally, love never fails. Matthew Henry in his commentary on First Corinthians says about love never failing because ‘It is a permanent and perpetual grace, lasting as eternity.’
What's love got to do with it? Everything, for in the end God gave His only Son for each of us . . .
The early church leader Augustine was once accosted by a heathen who showed him his idol and said, “Here is my god; where is thine?” Augustine replied, “I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show but because you have no eyes to see Him.”
Christlike love is the window in which men and women, boys and girls, see God. So, what’s love got to do with it? Everything for in the end it is the greatest of all God’s gifts to humanity for ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
The apostle John puts it this way: ‘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.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’ (1 John 4:7-12)
And that, dear brothers and sisters is what love has to do with it!