I have, on occasion, been accused of being a “love preacher.” It’s not an accusation that frightens me, but it used to puzzle me. It doesn’t so much any more. There’s a difference between a casual “all you need is love” attitude and “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34), especially considering that the latter is a command given by someone who went on to die immediately afterward.
The problem is that we want “love” as a kind of general good feeling about people, a general desire to have nice things happen to them, but at the same time we don’t really want to get involved in the actual implementation. I think many of us want to help the homeless, but sincerely hope we can do so by giving some money to the soup kitchen, or voting for politicians who will implement policies to help them, but not getting our hands dirty in the process.
There’s nothing wrong with giving money to the soup kitchen, or with trying to implement policies that help the homeless, nor with voting for politicians who will support such policies. The problem is that too often we call this “loving one another as Jesus loved us” and that’s not how Jesus did it.
He starts in heaven, takes on a human body, lives with us, eats with us, sleeps with us, gets dirty with us, and finally dies on a cross, all the time being like us. If you take the incarnation seriously, that Jesus was God in the flesh, you have to also believe that Jesus could have done as many or more nice things for people around him whilst hanging out in heaven.
But the Jesus kind of love doesn’t allow that. It gets dirty. It suffers. It cares in a personal way. Read Philippians 2:5-11.