As a site dedicated to a proper definition of love, i am always eager to pick up a book on the topic of Biblical love. As such, when i was at the Shepherd’s Conference a month and a half ago, i shook hands with a gentleman there and introduced myself. His name was Alexander Strauch. And without knowing anything else about me except that i desire to be a pastor someday, he said, “Don’t pick up my book on biblical eldership. Read Love or Die.”
So when i got home i went on Amazon and used my birthday money to buy this book. Over the past three days i read it.
I’ll give you my impression here: every Christian needs to buy this book. Not only is it immensely practical, but it is 100% convicting as well. From the introduction where he writes, “Love is essential to everything we do in Christian life and ministry”, to the last chapter where he encourages, “The Holy Spirit–who is God and love–produces within every believer a supernatural capacity to love as Christ loves”, this book should be required reading for those who desire to live in Love.
The book boils down to being an exposition on Revelation 2:4, where Jesus says, “You have abandoned the love you had at first” (English Standard Version, ESV).
In short, the book is broken into 2 parts. The first part is the exegesis of Revelation 2:4, broken into 3 chapters: Christ’s Commendation and Complaint; When a Church Loses Its Love; and Christ’s Remedy. The second part is a practical guide to how to not lose love, broken into six chapters: Study, Pray For, Teach, Model, Guard, and Practice Love.
Strauch points out something very important in the first chapter of the first part, that directly related to the post i wrote yesterday:
“Their hatred of the works of darkness was a demonstration of their love for Christ and God’s Word. Churches today need to understand that hatred of evil and falsehood is not a contradiction of love, but an essential part of genuine Christian love (1 Corinthians 13:6).”
To put up with falsehood in the name of love is the exact opposite of true love. In reality it is hatred. Jesus desires that our love be real. We cannot rightly claim to love Him but rejoice in falsehood for the sake of “loving” our neighbor.
The thesis statement for the book comes in chapter 3: “External religious performance can insidiously replace true, inner faith and heartfelt love. This is an ever-present danger. It is a problem that is often difficult to identify or explain until it is too late. Yet it must be identified and corrected because Love for God and neighbor lies at the very heart of genuine spiritual life. Thus, Revelation 2:4 is a wake-up call to all churches: love or die!“
The book repeatedly makes the reader reflect upon the state of their love life (thus the title for this article). And even Strauch admits the challenge of this type of writing (which i agree with entirely) when he writes, “Unlike writing about other biblical subjects, writing about love constantly exposes one to his or her failures to love God and neighbor as a Christian should.”
I don’t claim to have this down perfectly, and the author of this book would admit the same. However, this just highlights the absolute necessity of the second half of the book. We must do everything in our power–all of which is given by God’s grace in the first place–and pray to God to fill up what is lacking, so that we can love in the way Jesus has called us to love (John 13:34).
- When was the last time you studied the topic of love?
- When was the last time you prayed to be loving?
- When was the last time you taught someone about love?
- What are you doing to model love?
- What are you doing to guard love?
- When was the last time you practiced love–the selfless kind the Bible describes and Jesus modeled?
These are hard questions. And for me the most convicting one is the praying one.
This book is amazing: highly challenging, immensely practical, biblically saturated. Grab a copy today!
Soli Deo Gloria