LOVE WITHOUT BREAD IS MEANINGLESS
Love without bread is absolutely meaningless. It is the kind of food that leaves us hungry and in want. The more we eat, the less we enjoy it. Ultimately, it even makes us sick, and we turn away from this kind of love. We end up blaming God for having led us to believe that love would be sufficient to take care of our mistakes or problems. This type of love is man-made and it is blind. The kind of love Jesus talked about puts bread on the table. Love lives on bread and not on fancy or wishful thinking.
Love is strong when it is surrounded with substance that fills man’s soul and man’s body. It has to be bread that fills both soul and body. We know for a fact, that substance, like money, does not fill the soul only the body. That was why Jesus told an audience, “Labor not for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts into eternal life”(Jn.6: 27). The people, in his day as well as in our day, look for quick fixes. The result has always been the same. It does not last and creates even more problems. If we only could learn, like the Psalmist did from a tree. It does not grow over night and it does not grow without water. Yet, it can be destroyed in minutes. Love is very much like a tree. It, too, requires time and water or bread to grow and survive otherwise it dies. There is way too much dead love among us.
Let us examine whether Jesus supports our thesis? Can love live without bread? Jesus had a lengthy discussion on the subject. Far too many had followed Him because Jesus had fed them with five loaves and two fish. But when Jesus asked for them to commit to His cause, they ceased from following Him. When He asked them why they were withdrawing their support and presence, they told Jesus that his speech or demands were too hard (Jn. 6: 60-66). Genuine love was, is and always will be hard because it requires that we supply the bread. Jesus had a heart of compassion, but He also depended on a lad that brought five loaves and two fish. God could not love without evidence that is why He gave us his only begotten Son. Our Lord could not love without that boy. Neither can we love without the help of others. We can even be sacrificed according to the Apostle Paul; yet, gain nothing, if others do not back us up with actions, will happen (1.Cor.13:3). If our love does not put bread on the table, then it is not worth talking about it.
We may object and say, “God’s love is unconditional!” If it really was or is unconditional, then why did His only Son have to die? And if we think that He offers His love to us unconditionally, then why must we show works of repentance (Mt. 3:8)? Then there is this thing about loving God and our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. Does that not indicate, after all, that God wants some bread from us for His love? He, Himself, does not need it, but the stranger that fell among robbers did. What about the words of Jesus that man shall not live by bread alone but by the word of God (Mt. 4:4)? The emphasis was on the word “alone.” Jesus also told His followers to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). The two go hand in hand. At the same time, neither love nor bread has hands or feet. Someone must work to earn it. God could turn stones into bread, but He did not (Mt. 4:3). He wants us to pray for it but also work for it. And He wants us to feed our children before we throw it to the dogs (Mt. 15:26). It is very doubtful that our Lord wants the government to feed everybody. Such a project takes from those that have until they have no more. The majority of us have gotten where we are by the sweat of our brows, and not by waiting for handouts. There was a man in the Bronx of New York. He sat on a street corner and begged. When he died, he had one half of a million in his bank. Now, if all of us tried his way, how would we do?
There is madness among us. It is this striving to strike it rich. We are not satisfied with our daily bread. We want a barn filled with love and bread. We want it all for ourselves. Jesus told a parable about a certain man, who tore down his small barns and built larger ones because his land overproduced. He must have been a hard-working man to put his land in such good condition when it produced abundantly? Unprepared land does not produce much; I have tried it. He had no time for anybody else but his land, his crops and his storage places. He had accumulated so much that he did not have to work any longer. Just as he wanted to sit back and take it easy, he died (Lk. 12:20). He made one slight error. He had lived on bread alone and not on love. There was no one left to share his wealth. We can guess that the state or the king got all of it and perhaps erected a memorial in his name. The point is that we can get sidetracked by riches, and lose our soul in the process. Of course, we are all smarter than that rich fool in the Bible. But then, this madness for money can trick us like the frog that was being boiled and did not know it. Money was never to be our master, only a friend (Lk. 16:9). Money cannot love by itself. It can be a means to show love, but never an end in itself. A wealthy couple tried to adopt an orphan. They offered many promises of material blessings. The lad refused and the couple asked for a reason. The little boy replied, “I want someone to love me.” Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote about a lady that left this suicide note, “I am killing myself because I have never sincerely loved any human being in all my life.” Yes friend, love needs bread and bread needs love. One without the other leaves us empty.
In the process of getting our bread, did we obtain it the honest or dishonest way? Is our bread a blessing or is it a curse? Did it bring us love or hatred? How many friends or enemies have we made in the process? These and many more are some of the questions, we must ask before we set out to get our bread. Far too often, we do eat bread that does not belong to us. Some one has been hurt or cheated by the way we gained our bread. That is why we must put love first and bread second. It is love that will ask whether our process of getting bread will be harmful to others. True love does not allow us to eat illegal or unethical food. Love rather suffers, than causes suffering. It rather shall be cheated than swindle others. It rather blesses than curses. Just as love without bread is ineffective, so bread without love is unproductive. We cannot demonstrate one without the other. But if we break bread together in love, we recognize our friendship and our oneness (Lk. 24:35). Love must be at the heart of our bread. Jesus our master put it thus, “What man among you, if his son asks him for bread will give him a stone; if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent. If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those that ask him.” Then Jesus added the golden rule that has been overly simplified by translation, namely, “Do unto others what you want them to do unto you.” The Greek has it, “Now in all things, in order that you want man doing unto you, the same thing you must do unto them; for that in total is the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 7:7-12). In everyday language it means, “Don’t expect any bread from anyone if you have not given any away.
Love has a language that is easily understood. It does not come in words but in deeds. It does not put itself first but last. I was nine years old when our father returned from a defeated Polish army and tried to move his family from under Russia to Germany and failed. We were stranded in a Roman Catholic Seminary at the border. Only a bridge with Russian guns kept us from, what we hoped was freedom. My brothers, seven and five, slept on a hard table, our pregnant mother and father slept under the table and I and another boy slept on a windowsill. Every table and spot in that huge hall was occupied. Long before daybreak, father was gone for hours standing in breadlines. Not every time did he return with some bread, but when he did, our parents let us eat first, and then what was left, they ate. Far too often, they ate nothing. That to me was an act of love; but more so, it put meaning into love.