A Feature Review of
Love Matters More: How Fighting to Be Right Keeps Us from Loving Like Jesus
Reviewed by Sherra Edgar
If you went to church as a child, even just once or twice, I’d be willing to bet you’re familiar with 2 songs – better yet, I’ll bet you could sing them right now! The songs are “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” To this day, many years into my adulthood, few songs bring a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart more than these two do. Maybe it’s because with them come fond childhood memories, friends and experiences, but just the words of these songs bring joy and a sense of security with them. I am loved. Just as childhood should be, these words are simple, unencumbered, and unconditional. I don’t have to work for this love, believe certain things or ways for this love or earn it in any way. I’m just loved, period.
My upbringing in the church was, in many ways, as simple as these songs. We went to church, enjoyed goldfish and apple juice, colored Bible scenes, learned Bible verses, and heard wonderful stories about a God whose love could not be deterred, and the sacrificial love of His Son, Jesus. Oh, we were told to obey our parents and not to “sin,” but the great emphasis was on the awesomeness and fierce love of God. Ah, the good old days.
Unfortunately, as I grew older, I began to realize that, although God and Jesus might provide me with unconditional love, few others did – sometimes, not even people in God’s church loved without “strings.” In fact, some church members could become antagonistic quickly upon finding out that you were sprinkled as a child, instead of dunked; went through a confirmation process instead, of just praying a prayer; sang upbeat praise songs, instead of hymns. There were so many things to disagree over! All of a sudden, the “rules” or detailed belief systems took the forefront of discussion and the great love of Christ was tucked neatly away on the top shelf of the refreshment closet. So often it seemed as though the “Thou shalts/Thou shalt nots” seemed much more important than “Love your God” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” leading one to ask,
“How can all of these rules be the main point of Christianity? Isn’t the whole thing supposed to be about love?”
If you’ve ever asked these questions or ones like them, Jared Byas’s book, Love Matters More: How Fighting to be Right Keeps Us from Loving Like Jesus is a must-read for you. In an endearing, witty, relatable writing style, Byas’s book is like a warm blanket for those of us trying to get back to the root of Christian love – something that often seems like it could have been lost forever. He asks himself questions that many of us have been asking ourselves in the quiet solace of our prayer closet for years.
One of my favorite things about this book is that, over and over again, Byas’s love for God and His Word is obvious. He uses Scripture from all over the Bible, all throughout the book. He discusses at length his personal metamorphosis from being a rule follower and truth seeker to someone just trying to do what Christ modeled here on earth: to love.
In Chapters 1 and 2, Byas discusses the difference between absolute truth (truth only known completely by God) and the truth we, as humans, try to come up with ourselves in the Bible, according to our own experiences and environment – our umwelt. He says there are 3 different types of truth: fact truth, meaning truth and wisdom truth.
In Chapter 3, Byas discusses the emphasis we have come to put on “being right “ – getting the facts straight and knowing all the answers, instead of doing what Jesus did when He was here and instructed us to do: love one another. Rather than the end all/be all, truth should simply be a tool that we use to help us love others well. Byas explains that we have a tendency to take the truth we know, filter it through our own experiences and belief systems, then push those beliefs on others – sometimes out of pride, other times from a place of fear or misunderstanding. Sometimes our need to be “right” overshadows our instruction to love. These are powerful words and reminders!
In Chapters 4 and 5, Byas reminds us that Christ, our Savior, is the very embodiment of love AND truth. If this is true, for the true follower of Christ, one cannot exist without the other – truth cannot exist with love and love cannot exist without truth. This sounds so simple, but turns out to be very difficult to accomplish. In society today, there seems to be a line drawn in the sand between Christians who operate in love and those who operate in the truth. To this, Byas asks, “How can this be?” As true believers in Christ, we must operate in love and truth – just as He did.
Quite often we, as Christians, feel it is our duty to “speak the truth in love,” to those who do not share our belief system or live according to our interpretation of the Bible. In reality, Byas reminds us that we are called to love these people, to engage them, to pray for them, to treat them with kindness. Byas urges us to cross that great divide between love and truth and be united as believers.
In Chapters 6-8, Byas invites us to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus Himself spoke about us – to “do greater things than He did.” Byas believes, just as our society has changed in so many facets and we have evolved and adjusted, we must use what we have learned in God’s Word, then interpret it through present society and circumstances. Byas believes this will help us love others better. Is Byas suggesting that we change the meaning of the Bible? Do we interpret God’s Word in a way that fits our lives, our circumstances, our sin? No! In this book, Byas encourages us to have the hard conversations regarding problems that plague our society, our families, our very lives. Will they be uncomfortable? Certainly, but these conversations must take place nevertheless.
Finally, in Chapters 9-11, Byas suggests that when we engage in these conversations with others, searching for the truth to be found, the condition of our heart should guide us. Byas asks us to strive for a more “authentic faith,” one that always has the other person’s best interests in mind. Finding this type of faith, according to Byas, is always “wrestling between being and becoming, between who we are and who we want to be.” We are never more like Jesus when we love – regardless of the unanswered questions, the striving to find the answers, the differences in how we live and believe; we just love. Period.
If you are a believer who is struggling to love and live the truth, this book is for you. If you are a believer who feels his/her faith has become empty, full of only rules without relationship, this book is for you. If you are a believer striving to love as Christ does in a society full of hard-drawn lines and unanswered questions, this book is for you. If you want to learn to live and love as Christ did, this book is for you.
Sherra G. Edgar is a native Southeast Texan who enjoys reading, writing, drinking coffee with friends and yelling for the Texas A & M Aggies. She is passionate about journeying through life with other women, with as much love, grace and humor as possible…and, just a tad bit of sarcasm. Read more from Sherra at www.sherragedgar.com
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
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