All you need is love

The famous Beatles song, All You Need Is Love, has the kind of lyrics and beat that whenever I hear it, it gets stuck in my head. I really only know the chorus, 

All you need is love, all you need is love, all you need is love, love, love is all you need.

There it goes again…stuck in my head…

It was written and sung in 1967 for Our World, the world’s first televised satellite link-up between 25 countries worldwide. The significance was that this song had the potential audience of 400 million people, it being the first time this type of media had the ability to reach so many (The Beatles Bible)All you need is love was the message that went out to the world.

How cool is that? That love was the first message broadcasted to the world in this way.

The Beatles were right, the fact is, we need love. It is a deep soul need that we as humans have. 

When our youngest son was about 14 years old, my husband was doing a teaching series on love at our church. He was wondering just how much our son knew that God loved him, so he asked him the question. Our son’s response was to roll his eyes as if to say, Duh! and then replied, “Dad, you only speak about it every time we are at church”. But though he had heard very often that God loved him, I don’t know how much of it he really understood. It is the same with us, even though over and over we hear the words, “God is Love”, or All you need is love, we don’t really get it

Why can’t we understand love if it is what we really need to know?

Right from when we are children we build up our own ‘file’ of love. We gather and box what is said about love, we store away the things done and experienced of love; instinctively too, when love hurts, we protect ourselves by building walls around our hearts. And through all these things we develop our own personal understanding of love. But it is a corrupt file in that it is filled with human experiences of love which are often lacking or broken.

There are people, called Loveologists, who study love and what love or lack of love does to us. Their research suggests that as much as 75% of the love conveying actions that comes to an average person is missed and, therefore, not received.  A large part of what does get received is not received fully or well. The conclusion is that we have problems as humans in understanding and receiving love. 

If I were to guess why Saint Paul wrote Ephesians 3:16-20, emphasizing over and over again with words like, strengthen, with power, may have power, his power at work within, it would be because he too knew the struggle we have with love, and he knew that we needed a supernatural empowering from God – the One who is perfect when it comes to love – to help us with these problems we have. 

Paul wrote –

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”

Firstly, I am empowered to receive love (Blog #26)

“…he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” 

‘God is Love’ and as He dwells inside of me, Love begins to break down the walls so that I can receive His love. I need this love. It is perfect for the human soul – for my soul, for my whole being who has been broken by the unable-to-truly-love, love that humans offer. 

And secondly, I am empowered to understand,

“…may have power…to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” 

This second mention of power, too, is a divinely given strength. Because of my experience of human love, I have gaps in understanding what real love is. The power God gives fills the need, the void, or gap in overcoming the difficulties we have in understanding His love for us.

Understanding God’s love looks like this –

“And I pray that you,

being rooted 

and established in love…

may grasp…

and know…

love…”

To be rooted means to be firmly fixed

There is something very important about being rooted or firmly fixed in love. Roots anchor. They grow down deep and then they start spreading out to stabilize the plant, to secure it and hold it in place. God’s perfect love is the only real thing that can stabilize and secure me in this life. I need to be rooted in His love, meaning I need to have such a deep understanding of His love, that my mind is firmly fixed on what it means for me, and does not waver from this knowledge.

Not long ago I walked a track down to a beautiful beach. In the middle of the track was a tree. It had been left there, right in the middle. Instead of the track-makers tearing down the tree, they built the path either side of it. What got my attention about this particular tree that I negotiated my way around, was that many of the roots, at its base, were out of the ground. They were hard and strong and had the appearance of claws gripping firmly into the ground to hold it upright and in place. Though these were visible, it was obvious that this tree’s roots went way down into the ground, far beyond the surface where I could not see them. I never gave the stability of this tree a second thought as I walked around it. I wasn’t worried that it would fall down as I approached it. I don’t think it was worried either: its roots were deep, holding it firmly in place.

To be established means to be firmly grounded.  

Being firmly grounded is like making my home in God’s love. It is somewhere I can always go back to, a safe place, a place of comfort and rest.

I’ve always loved that we have home for our boys to return to. One is at university many hours drive away, one has spent the last few years traveling the world, one works and lives away from home but here in our city, and the youngest, while still at home, is often out or away. When each one returns from time to time, the moment they walk in the door, they are home – settled in, like nothing has changed. I like that – that for them, coming home is safe, comfortable, familiar, restful.  This is what God’s love is like for us.

To grasp means to be firmly held

Another function of roots is to take in water and nutrients to grow. God’s desire is that I take on – I perceive it, believe it, grasp it, get it firmly into my head and heart – the love He has for me. It becomes a truth so deeply held that I grow! I grow in confidence, trust, and stability in the love He has for me.

I have been trying to learn French. It seems at my age, getting the words and phrases and new sounds to stick in my head, is tough. But some have firmly found their hold there now, so that when I hear or read the words, I understand what they are, and, I can confidently say them in conversation. My knowledge and understanding of this beautiful language is growing as it takes a firm hold in my mind. 

It is the same with love. But added to my growing knowledge is the extra power of God’s strength at work – may have power…to know…It is not just me rehearsing knowledge to get it firmly embeded in my head, there is power – God’s power – helping me, filling the need or void in overcoming the difficulties I have, so that I can know His love.

To know means to firmly understand

A third thing roots do is to store food and nutrients for when it is needed for healing. If I could know, understand, perceive and grasp that I am loved with Perfect Love, the kind that God has – and the incredible implications of this love for me – it would change me, make me a different person, impact me in ways I could never imagine, fill me up, make me feel safe in this world, and heal those deepest parts of me where I have been hurt by love. 

Each time I learn something new about God’s love, it becomes a new truth to me, something secure I believe deep within. Often these days when I find myself wavering with a difficult situation, whether it be about life and its struggles, my boys, health, finances, my future, or whatever, I speak the truths about God’s love to myself – His love never leaves me, it is for me not against me. His love is limitless, it will never fail, never betray, is patient and forgiving, compassionate and gracious – always… It is not a natural process. I have to remind myself of Love so that it becomes the truth that I believe for those times when the things that threaten the safety of my world, try to overwhelm me. But it means that Love is healing me, changing my perspective on love. Each time I recount to myself the characteristics of God’s love, along with the power He gives to help me understand, my mind and my emotions settle into a safe place more quickly than they did the time before.

I believe without a doubt that All we need is love, but I am only just at the beginning of being able to receive it and understand it fully. The Beatles may or may not have realized how true this was when they released this song, and how its words have since continued to impact this world, getting stuck in people’s heads… I don’t know if the Beatles understood that “all we need is God’s love”, but its what I’m learning. So perfect is this love that it does everything necessary for me to be able to receive it by tearing my walls down. To understand it deeply. To be changed by it. To be healed and given a new perspective of true love. And to be secure in it, where the hard things of this world cannot become so overwhelming that I crash each time they come at me.

Continued in next week’s Blog…