Harry and Meghan are now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Royal watchers anticipated the pomp and fashion, but American Bishop Michael Curry’s wedding sermon surprised the Brits with its own share of attention.

Appropriate for the moment, he spoke on love and its power to change people. The Bible says love features prominently in God’s relationship to us, and thereby affects how we relate to one another.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

To understand this, you cannot measure God by your definition of love. God must be understood on His own terms.  Has anyone ever told you, or have you been tempted to say, “If you love me, then you will (fill in the blank).”  That’s how you customize love to your own needs.  Likewise you might think if God is love, He will stop your pain, fix your problems, or make your life easy.  God loves you even when life is not precisely as you want.

Jesus defined love like this: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). He understood a world in which sacrifice and pain are part of our reality, and in which love has the power to overcome evil.  He takes the long view, that this world offers nothing that compares with the glories of eternity.

But there are, you might say, lesser loves which do make this world a nicer place. In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis describes love as the empathy of a parent, the bond between friends, the sense of being “in love,” and the unconditional love of God.  The last of the four is the greatest, the one to which we aspire.  It is a sacrificial, willful love.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. Ravi Zacharias said, “The will is that disposition of the mind that will choose a path and bind itself with love, even if pain is mixed with the choice. In the West, particularly, we have become so resistant to pain that at the slightest hint of it, we prepare to flee by some shortcut or some solution that masks the discomfort. By His example, Jesus teaches us the opposite.”

To borrow from the great philosopher Elvis Presley, God couldn’t help falling in love with you. He made you to love.  “Take my hand; take my whole life too,” could describe Jesus’ love offer to you.  With the life of Christ in you, you can “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-38).  Choose love!


On “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Woody Harrelson said he and Mike Pence were friends at Hanover College.  They’ve since taken different paths.

Harrelson told Kimmel he stopped pursuing religious beliefs.  He decided, “Let’s just put this whole idea on hold so that I can have a twenties and thirties of extreme hedonism.”  He got a big laugh.

Appreciate the honesty, if not the humor.  The assumption is clear.  If God exists, I can’t have my fun.  Os Guinness says, “Sin is essentially and willfully narcissistic, and it includes both a truth claim (‘God is dead’) and a task (‘I am now out to be God in my life’).”  Those sound more like deceit and bondage than truth and freedom.  I don’t want that for my friends.

A Pew Research poll indicates that most people (56% of U.S. adults) agree with Pence, believing in God as described in the Bible.  At Hillsdale College recently, Pence noted, “Faith has always been the wellspring of hope for millions of Americans, and from our Founding, faith has been the foundation of our freedom, and religion essential to our republic.”

Truth exists whether you believe it or not, and it confronts.  Does naturalism really explain why atoms, cells, creatures, and planets appear so designed?  Why were the eye-witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus so willing to suffer rather than deny what they saw?  Logic and reality point to truth.  Francis Schaeffer said, “The nearer (a non-Christian) is to the real world, the more illogical he is to his presuppositions.”  You can try to make that dilemma disappear by reading a (oft-refuted) Hitchens or Dawkins book, but isn’t that confirmation bias?

This cultural moment wants us to put God “on hold.”  G. K. Chesterton wrote, “We have long past talking about whether an unbeliever should be punished for being irreverent; it is now thought irreverent to be a believer.”  Yet we do believe, and carry a burden for friends who don’t.  We hope that just because someone does not believe today, the day will come when the truth and love of God in Christ become compelling.  We all need a come-to-Jesus moment.  Why not?

How does the believer respond?  The Bible says, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15).  “Everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8).  You can do that.

We were all once unbelievers, loved by God who is willing to show mercy and grace.  His kindness in Christ Jesus is a gift. “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8).  The last word does not have to be unbelief.

Steve McQueen

Remember actor Steve McQueen?  He was known as the “King of Cool.”  Do you know what his most valued possession was?  It’s probably not what you think.

The 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390 used in his movie “Bullitt” splashed ink into the movie memorabilia headlines in 2018.  After the car’s location had been a mystery for decades, its owner agreed to display it at a car show in Detroit.  McQueen had tried several times to buy the famous Bullitt Mustang.  The last time was in 1977, ten years after he filmed the movie.  He never owned it.

McQueen had a reckless bad boy image.  It started young.  Abandoned in his infancy by his father, his mother handed him over to her parents.  At age eight, she took him back.  The stepfather was abusive, so he lived as a delinquent on the streets.  His mother eventually remanded him to a home for boys.  He left there at 16 for serial jobs as a merchant marine, oil field roughneck, and carnival barker.

He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1947.  They instilled some discipline in him, but only after he spent time in the brig.  After his enlistment, he took up acting.  But even while becoming the world’s highest-paid actor, his life was plagued by broken relationships and substance abuse.

In his late 40’s, he started pilot training.  His flight instructor was Sammy Mason.  Mason became a father figure to McQueen, but more importantly he was a Christian willing to offer answers to McQueen’s questions about God and faith.  McQueen began attending church with Mason.  Within three months he had enough answers, so Steve McQueen believed in Christ Jesus.

Six months later, he was diagnosed with a form of lung cancer caused by asbestos.  After U.S. doctors told him no other treatment was available, he sought alternatives in Mexico.  It was there Billy Graham visited him, and gave McQueen his personal Bible.  It immediately became McQueen’s most valued possession.  He died three days later with that Bible in his hands.  It was just before Thanksgiving in 1980.  He was only 50.  Now you know the rest of the story, also told in his wife’s book Steve McQueen: The Last Mile, and the movie Steve McQueen: American Icon.

When life on this earth becomes uncertain, what matters most becomes crystal clear.  But lest such an experience cause you to have regrets, reflect on the reference Billy Graham wrote in the Bible he gave McQueen.  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).  No matter what stage of life you participate in the gospel of Christ, God will finish what he started in you.  That was good news to Steve McQueen.

Mother’s Love

What has your mother done to make you feel loved?  Such was my recent poll question.  The responses, both delightful and sad, suggest a common yearning.

“I can still taste her pear preserves made just for me.”  “She still gathers the whole family together for Sunday dinner.”  “She never wanted the last serving.”

“She led our girls club, took us camping.”  “She read many books to me.”  “We visited our extended family often.”  “My classmates envied the burgundy velvet jacket she made for me.”  “When my own children were born, she came to stay with me.”

“In a thunderstorm, she rocked me.”  “During the night, I would call out and she would appear at my bedside.”  “She brushed my long hair and made me feel special as her only daughter.”  “She listened when I had girl troubles.”  “Driving the last mile to school every day, she would pray for us in the car.”

As I expected, the question also uncovered the grief of mother’s passing or the pain of not knowing mother’s love.  It is our common yearning to experience love from mother.  Whether or not we receive that love, the yearning springs from a deeper well.

In The Unknown God, Alister McGrath writes, “The desire that we experience in the world can be thought of as a real desire for something that lies beyond this world.  It is hinted at by our experiences of the world.”  That “something” is to be loved perfectly and eternally, something only God can do.  He demonstrates love for you by creating you, by revealing Himself to you, and by Christ’s sacrifice for you, so that you can enjoy Him forever.

St. Augustine said, “Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”  Blaise Pascal observed that humans seek, but don’t find complete happiness.  “What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remains the empty trace, which he tries to fill from all his surroundings?  The infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable Object, God Himself.”

Does a universe of impersonal matter beget such ethereal longings that it cannot know?  Can unknowing atoms randomly order themselves into sentient beings?  No, it’s entirely reasonable that God created us to love and be loved by Him.

Your humanity hints at that when you enjoy or yearn for mother’s love.  In the midst of a discourse on love, the Bible says, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).  Mom, your love helps me know God better, but the best is yet to come.