Degrees of love

Penguins in Cape Town, South Africa
Penguins in Cape Town, South Africa

Can you love a person even when you hold back from loving them completely? When Jesus says “No one has greater love than this…” does this suggest that you can love a person in a manner somewhere less than complete sharing and uninhibited sacrifice? Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this…” What I am getting at is something I think a lot of folk have experienced, a love that is less that desirable. It is still love, but not what you really want. For example, think of the persons who have to come home to a chaotic, unpredictable, erratic kind of love.

I do not mean to excuse a second rate type of love. What I am saying is that even a less than desirable kind of love is still love. It may not be the best. It may totally confound and confuse, but it is still love. I believe this is why some persons stay in a relationship even though it is unsatisfying.

So, how deep is your love? Have you learned to let go of your fears, frustration and foolishness long enough to sacrifice your life, even to the point of possible injury and death? Think about the love the disciples had for Jesus and how their love for the Lord was so strong that all but one was martyred for Jesus: The disciples of Jesus followed him until their own deaths: Peter was nailed to a cross-upside down: Andrew was nailed to an X – shaped cross in Greece – preaching to the crowds while he died; Matthew was impaled by spears and beheaded in Ethiopia; Bartholomew was flayed to death in Armenia; Thomas was stabbed with a spear while establishing the church in India; Philip was impaled by hooks in his ankles and hung up side down; James the son of Zebedee was beheaded in Judea;Jude was crucified in Persia (Iran); Matthias was stoned and beheaded; John, the divine is the only apostle to die a natural death – on the isle of Patmos; James (the less) was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple then beaten to death; Simon the Zealot was crucified; James the brother of Jesus was thrown 100 feet off a wall then beaten to death ;Paul was beheaded. So, the question I leave you with today is this: Is Jesus your friend? How far will you go for the Lord? Jesus gave his all for you and me. How far will you go for the Lord?

John 15: 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.[1]

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are your thoughts regarding varying levels of love?
  2. Is it possible to have a loving relationship that is still love, but on a lesser or greater level? How can this be?
  3. What do you think Jesus is looking for in the way we love one another?


Lord, free me from those things that inhibit my ability to love at the deepest levels. Lord, I pray that my love will evolve every day. Teach me to be honest in how I share my feelings. Lord, show me how to listen even as I learn to be honest in how I share what means the most to be. Lord, help me to care for people and things that are important to me in a way where I am prepared to give my life in because of my devotion to thee. Teach me to care. Help me to feel. Show me a deeper spirituality as I learn to give and forgive, share and not withhold, to care and not ignore as I climb the stairway to heaven in your love. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray. Amen.

Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Jn 15:12–13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.