The Most Important Thing You Need to Know About Youth Ministry

His tone was charged with accusation, but his lips curled with a flickering smirk. He had stood in a long line of parents, waiting to question me—the 22-year-old who was interviewing to pastor his kids. I had already fielded an hour-and-a-half of group questions, and now had worked my way through the parental line. Six weeks after marrying my high school sweetheart, and just 4 months after college graduation, I was trying to land my first full-time career job. “You just said the same thing all night” he continued. “You’re just a one-trick-pony. Every question they asked you gave the same answer. It was just all about love, love, love. Do you really think that love is all there is to life? Don’t you have any other ideas?” 

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It’s a fair question. Maybe it was just the naiveté of a 22-year-old fresh out of college. Maybe as I got older, and wiser, I’d realize that love isn’t trustworthy. I’d realize that Hollywood has corrupted love. I’d figure out that real Christianity is about good doctrine, or discipline, or obedience, or . . . something more measurable than ‘love’. I’d discover that love isn’t trustworthy because sometimes you just have to obey God even when you don’t want to. I’d discover that it’s ok to not like someone but still say that you love them. Maybe when I got out of the idealism of college and into ‘grown-up life’ I’d realize that love is just a superficial thing that mature Christians have moved beyond. 

The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

. . . for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)

God is love. (1 John 4:8,16)

We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

The rant continued, and I thought, He might be joking, but if he isn’t—and I treat him like he is—I’m in trouble. Better take him seriously. I was starting to get nervous. But, he was right. I am a one-trick-pony. I really do think that everything—everything—ties back to love. That even judgment and wrath and truth and justice are all expressions of the love of God—of the God who is love. I really do think that God lives in perfect relationship as Father, Son, and Spirit. And I believe that perfect relationship is why He is love. Not just loving. Not just a lover. He is love. And, I really do think that everything comes back to love. I mean, isn’t that what Jesus says? “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” So yes. I am a one-trick-pony. I do tie everything back to love. And so does Jesus. That puts me in good company . . .

I started to explain myself yet again when the flickering smirk won out over the accusatory tone. Turns out he was joking—and that he agreed. Love is the answer—always. He even titled a book after it—One Trick Pony (by Phillip E. Long). You should pick it up—it’s a good read.

But the real question is—what’s your ‘one-trick-pony?’ What driving force in your life motivates what you do? Has the love of God won your heart? He is love.

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