I want to suggest that the greatest power on earth, often overlooked and not demonstrated enough, is love.

Someone might disagree, thinking that the greatest most powerful word on the earth is God. That is true too, because God is love.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

In Greek theology we come to understand love in its deepest form. The first kind of love is “storge” love: a natural affection between kin. Then, there is “phileos” love: a natural affection of brotherly love. Another is Eros love: sexual love between husband and wife. However, the greatest love is “agape” love — God’s love.

This love shows mankind unconditional care, concern and favor. It is loving the undeserving, despite disappointment and rejection.

God has only one condition for his unconditional love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”(John 3:16).

The New Testament never speaks of God loving unbelieving human beings with emotional love or a love that expects something in return. But, He loves with His will. The reason is that God can find nothing satisfying about a sinner on whom His wrath still abides. He loves by His will; it is His nature to love.

The Apostle Paul clearly defines the superiority of love. In summation, he declares that although one has spiritual gifts, wisdom, and talents, if he does not have love, those are null and void. Paul says: “Love suffers long, is kind; does not envy; is not proud or puffed up. Love is not selfish, and not easily upset. Love does not think evil; does not rejoice in sinful nature; but love rejoices in truth, endures trials and tribulations, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Love never fails. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13).

The Bible refers to the Fruit of the Spirit. I envision this like a bicycle, and the axle of the wheel is love. Then, from love comes the spokes: joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Without love, the other elements do not exist.

Love is powerful. We can change our marriages, families, churches, communities, cities, state, country and the world if we simply learn to love people. Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself.” The sad part is that too many people do not love themselves. Therefore, they can only give hatred, bitterness and negativity.

In the words of Pastor Rick Warren: “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, then you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You do not have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate.”

Love conquers all and does not require one to compromise. Hate does. If anyone were to ask me how to fix this world, I would simply tell them to learn to love one another as God has taught us to do.

The Rev. Carey N. Ingram is the pastor at Lovejoy Baptist Church.