I just finished this book Monday and I really love what the author, Church of Christ preacher Don McLaughlin, does in this book. In the introduction, he is quick to point out that in the history of Christianity and more specifically the church there have been grand meetings where church leaders and scholars have come together to form different creeds to clarify what the church believes. There was the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD and the Apostle’s Creed in 390 AD that both served the very specific purpose of affirming doctrinal beliefs such as the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. McLaughlin goes on to point out that all this energy and intentionality was given to the establishment of these creeds to serve as the doctrinal structure for the church, yet they left out one of the most important creeds cited within scripture. That is the creed to love.
When I first read the title of the book I considered a little cheesy and possibly even a little too similar to Rob Bell’s title of “Love Wins” or Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love.” Both decent books in their own right but ones that I definitely had issues with. I was pleasantly surprised to read that Mclaughlin’s take was neither too emotionally driven nor was it unfounded in scripture. He intentionally cites the biggest push that Jesus makes in his teaching to love above all else. He further uses Paul’s 1 Corinthians 13, or the “love chapter”, as a template for breaking down what a “love first” movement should like in the church based on these different facets of what love is.
There were parts of this book where I was a little wary of where he was going but there were even more parts were my pride was hurt because there are many practices, or maybe more accurately behaviors, that are prevalent in the church that directly infringe upon Jesus’ emphasis to love others at first contact. As a church, it is common for us to bicker, argue, or even disfellowship each other based on differences in doctrine. Sometimes these differences are quite minute. Whatever the difference, the church should always be a proponent of Jesus’ love creed, the creed to love first. There are many who point to the church’s inability to unify and love each other as the reason why the church is not a place the helps and heals but rather contributes to the problem. McLaughlin does a wonderful job of succinctly pointing out how the church needs to change to a love first mentality if it’s to accomplish the purpose it was made for in healing this world.