Toward a Doctrine of Love


April 4, 2022

1 Peter 4:8 NIV

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.


O.K., Sowers. I’ve been talking to the Bus Driver of this pilgrimage and she said we have to pick up our pace if we want to get home by Easter. We have exactly fourteen days to get to the end of this leg of the Daily Text Journey. Remember, we begin a six week hike through Colossians called The Domino Effect beginning April 18. Start inviting family and friends now. 

Toward a doctrine of love . . .

We have a doctrine of the Trinity. We have a doctrine of Salvation. We have a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. There are doctrines around eschatology, creation, sin, justification, sanctification, scripture, and on we could go. I have never seen a doctrine of love. 

Is it just assumed? If so, how could we make such an assumption; as love is the central and defining reality—the sine qua non—of the Christian faith. What is the greatest commandment, after all? It is the one thing, without which, (and assuming we have everything else), constitutes utter mission failure. 

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

We all have some notion of what we think it means to love each other deeply. Surely we can be honest though and admit that our definition of love is far more shaped by our culture than hardcore theological truth. It’s interesting how the dictionary has four or five different definitions for the the same word, love, most of which center around human feelings. Meanwhile the Bible has four or five completely different words for love, all of which we collapse into the one already confused English word we call love. 

The driving conviction behind Seedbed from its origin is the movement from being a so-called Christian to becoming the real thing, which we would call a person who is possessed of a profound, Holy Spirit-endowed love for God and people. This is at the heart of the Great Awakening for which we sow—a seismic awakening to “the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God.”

The banner we lifted up over our very first New Room Conference in 2014 was Sola Sancta Caritas (Only Holy Love). The keynote address came from New Testament scholar and friend, Dr. Joe Dongell. Watch it here. I’ll make the PDF of the talk free here, and if you want to purchase a Seedling version (or three) in print you can get that here. It is a profound work in the direction of a doctrine of love and continues to shape our work to the core. 

8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Above all, Friends. Above all. Wouldn’t we want to make this the focus of our extreme interest and the passionate focus of the “rest of our earthly lives?”  

Love each other deeply. 

Paul contributes large to our doctrine of love by telling us what and what not (see 1 Corinthians 13):

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not proud.
It is not rude.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.

Even moreso, a doctrine of love must tell us, Why? Our text today gives us one of the why’s.

because love covers over a multitude of sins. That is super deep and reflective. 

Here’s another why from Brother John. 

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

Most of all, a doctrine of love must point to how. That’s where this bus is headed. 

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn: 


Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are The who, what, when, where, and why of love. You are the author and the book—the Word, Love, made flesh. When we look at you we see a God kneeling at our feet to wash them in love. When we look at you we see a God lifted up high with arms outstretched suffering for love’s sake. You are the what, the why, and you are the how. Holy Spirit, unfold this glorious way before us. We are following close now. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Is your heart waking up to a deeper longing to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God, which is his love becoming power in and through us? If so, fan that flame. If not, keep kindling. 

P.S. A Special and Urgent Prayer Request

Joe Dongell was among our very first OneBook Teachers with Seedbed. His wife Regina served as a kind of Executive Producer over the project on Mark’s Gospel. Regina needs our prayers. She recently had a heart transplant surgery. She has made progress but remains “in the deep woods.” Let’s join together in prayer for Jesus to raise her up to full health and vigor and for this new heart to become steadfast within her so that the glory of God may be revealed. Regina come forth! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. I perceive deep down in my soul that God Almighty is laying the foundation for the next Awakening. My prayer is and has been to discern my role in all of this. I can look back and see how these past Spiritual renewals took place, but I know that this one may take on a totally different form. I want to be prepared as I watch and pray. I’m thankful for the part that Seedbed plays in my preparations.

  2. My heart is waking up to a deeper longing to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God and it’s a shocker! I’m learning that self-love and neighbor-love can’t coexist. The “fullness of God” doesn’t allow me room for self-love. Jesus put it this way: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.”

    To love is to lose yourself through focusing on showing compassion, caring, and kindness to other people. Jesus quoted Leviticus 19:18; “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That verse doesn’t say to love your neighbor “along with yourself.” It says, “as” yourself. I believe it means “as a replacement for yourself.”

    Because my will and my neighbor’s will are never perfectly aligned, my self-love becomes a hindrance to neighbor-love, and I have to choose between the two. Loving myself distracts me from loving my neighbor. The only way to truly love my neighbor as myself is to love my neighbor instead of myself–to shift the love and focus I have for myself to my neighbor. Self-love puts self ahead of neighbors. Since neighbor-love puts neighbors ahead of self it calls for intentional self-denial.

    As Paul put it: “Consider others better than yourself.” Jesus showed us how to “love your neighbor as yourself” when He denied Himself, prayed “not My will, but Yours be done,” and then freely surrendered His life to die for others.

  3. Praying for Regina! Father God, we ask for a full and complete recovery for Regina. Be miraculous and glorious that she may testify to Your healing! In Jesus’ mighty name we pray, amen.

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