So sang the Beatles, so sings the world, so sings the church. But the song isn’t the same because love isn't ubiquitous, the same quality everywhere. Lennon and McCartney saw love through sexualised eyes; sex defines love - free sex, that is. That didn't turn out too well, did it? Free love is costing us a fortune.
John and Paul (the other John and Paul) see love through the eyes of the cross. For them the cross of Jesus Christ defines love. How do we know God loves us? Jesus died sacrificially, in our place, for our sins. This is love, that while we were incapable he acted by dying for us, in a manner that cost him his life. Feelings barely entered the picture, neither personal satisfaction and gain, lost.
This is a far cry from the feelings driven dialogue, along with the barking insistence, that dominates this present age.
Love is dying for, giving up, preferring others before ourselves. It is a tough lesson to learn, a rebuke to our self-orientation, a bold challenge to the idol of preference. But it saves, it heals, it restores.
When love is appealed to, as the unchallengeable principle, the natural, the not to be denied response of our humanity, anything goes - and it does. But if love is defined in Pauline and Johannine terms, and not in the terms of this world, different criteria, demands and outcomes prevail.
This love serves us well because it serves. This love restrains impulse from dominating, and devastating. This love is more like God because it is God-like.
There is a love that loves and there is a love that hates.