Carol Hallman: Is it possible to have faith and not love?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 18, 2015

When I was wandering through the Sunday school rooms the other day I came across an interesting question on the board in the youth room. The question was this, “Is it possible to have faith and not love?”

What would faith without love look? Would it be a self-righteous belief that I’m right and you’re wrong? Would it be so self-assured that it becomes judgmental and therefore is used to judge others? Does faith without love denigrate others by placing them in a category of one’s own making? Is it being so obedient to the law we lose sight of the effect on others? Is faith without love what we see on both sides of the theological divide, both among religious conservatives and religious liberals when they are unable to hear the voice of the other? Or paints them with broad strokes so that they lose their humanity? Would we define this type of behavior faith? Or is love necessary to faith?

The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (NRSV)

Jesus, himself seemed to imply that love was an integral part of faith. When asked the most important commandment he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”(Luke 10:27, NRSV). He then proceeds to tell the story of the Good Samaritan that not only shows love in action but across boundary lines. In the gospel of John on the night before the Passover Jesus wrapped a towel around himself, took a bowl of water and began to wash his disciple’s feet. He told them that he was providing an example for them, an example I believe was founded on love in God and love of them. He told them to do the same with others. (John 13:1-17) As we read through the gospel stories we see Jesus over and over again reaching out to the people on the margins of society, the ones nobody loves and he welcomes them and enjoins them to follow him.

By implication then, I think that the faith that Jesus calls us to is faith with love and that to be a follower of Christ love is required and perhaps more necessary than faith, after all Paul says, “now faith, hope and love abide these three but the greatest of these is love.”

 

Carol Hallman is resident pastor at First UCC, 207 West Horah St. 

 

 

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