Book Review: The Love Revolution, by Gaylord Enns

With this post we offer our review of a book that some of us have found to be a personal treasure, The Love Revolution by Gaylord Enns. Our New Canaan Society (NCS) men’s group has been reading and discussing it for weeks and it’s changing  some of our lives. Goodreads rates it five stars, commenting, “Get ready! Love Revolution will rock your world!”

Hidden in Plain Sight The book’s subtitle is Rediscovering the Lost Commandment of Jesus  No, the author isn’t suggesting a lost command of Jesus has recently surfaced. It’s been with us all along. Gaylord writes that Jesus gave us his love command in John 13: 34, 35 when he instituted the new covenant. In case they missed it, he gave it twice again in John 15:12, 17. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. He added, “If you do this, the world will recognize you as my disciples.”

How did we miss it? After reading chapter eight of the book, Dave, our group’s leader was aghast. “How is it that, after all these years, I didn’t see this?” Well, he isn’t alone. Many believers believe Jesus great command is “Love God with all your heart, soul mind and your neighbor as yourself.”  Go back and read it again in context. It wasn’t Jesus’ command at all, but the one God gave Moses’–His old order for the old order. Jesus gave a new order for a new order i.e. a new command for a new covenant.

But Jesus said them, right? Yes, Jesus did say them, but he quoted it from the old covenant  when an expert in the Law asked, “Master, which is the great commandment of the law of Moses.Jesus quoted Moses, but never said it was his command, but Moses’. He never taught it to his disciples and it’s found nowhere else in the New Testament. “Astonishingly,” Gaylord writes, “all these years most of us have substituted the two core commandments of the old covenant for the two commands of the new.”

The crux of the book is that Jesus came to bring us grace, truth and love, paying for it with his blood. His joyous good news is that we are free from the harsh demands of the law, and this includes the command to love God and our neighborHold on now. Don’t jump the gun. Let’s give our author a chance to explain, which he does very well.

The Burden of the Law. With genuine honesty and humility, Gaylord shares his own struggles, of how hard he tried, all his life and ministry, to obey this mandate to love God with all of his being. Like many of us, he often felt nagging guilt that he was never really able to love God enough. Family and church responsibilities “kept me from being as devoted to God as I should be ”….feeling I should spend more time in prayer and in the study of the Scriptures.” Think of it! The law’s demand put him in the awful bind of being torn between loving God and loving others: his family and congregation. I can relate.

Down the Rabbit Hole. Without knowing it, over the years, this burden was taking its toll on him. His faith was becoming a burden not a joy. In 2001 he fell into that hole, experiencing a complete breakdown, taking a full year to recover. But, thank God, during recovery, he made the discoveries of a lifetime. When he was back, leading his congregation of 33 years, it was with fresh insights that changed his life and the direction of his ministry forever. He was, and is, on a journey rediscovering Jesus’ neglected command, not only for himself, but for his Jerusalem, which is the environs of Chico, California and even to the uttermost parts of the world, literally.

Why do we love God? This is the question Gaylord answers, not by reverting to Moses’ law, which puts the burden of love on the believer. Jesus gospel of a new covenant, places the burden of love on God.  Simply put, “We love Him [only] because He first loved us.” It’s shocking, isn’t it? Somehow, God’s love for us and his desire for us to return his love has been overshadowed by a law that demands we love him! How could we have slipped back into that bondage–turning the joyous good news that, “God so loved the world” into, “World, you better love God!?”

Trust and obey. Gaylord explains that Jesus, like Moses, had two core commands. “Trust and obey” describes them in a nutshell.  He identifies Jesus first command is to believe in Jesus in John 3: 16. We find it throughout the gospels, especially in his reply to those who asked, “What does God want us to do?” This time Jesus answered with his command, not Moses.’ ”God wants you to believe in the One He has sent.” This is the  gospel, preached by His apostles,  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Gaylord found how often Paul referenced them, “When I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people I have not stopped giving thanks for you.” (Ephesians 1: 15, 156) “We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people (Col 1: 3, 4)

His second command, ”Love one another,” follows necessarily from his first. Gaylord stresses that love for God results from putting our trust in His son. New Covenant faith begins with trust, but doesn’t end there. It leads us to love God and others, not because we are ordered to, but because we are so grateful to Him for his love, we want to.

Pastor Enns has helped me grasp once more, the simple truth that true faith in God must lead to love. And isn’t this true of any solid relationship? A great, old hymn makes it crystal clear. “Trust and obey; there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

How did we miss it?

In our next post, Gaylord answers an objection I’ve often heard to this teaching. He explains how Jesus’ two “trust and love” core commands, helps him to love God and his neighbors even more, not less. I would add that, as I continue to grasp this truth for myself, I’m more relaxed and more fun to live with—at least my wife said so today. It’s working!

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Love Revolution, by Gaylord Enns

  1. Sorry, not about your review, but about your New Canaan group…the founder, Jim Lane, used to be my youth group leader in Maplewood. Just a side note of some interest.

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