According to Dabo Swinney, Love Wins!
That’s right! Head coach of the newly crowned national champion Clemson Tigers, told the nation, after having previously telling his team – repeatedly – that it’s love that wins!
For Dabo, love was the key to the final – and classic – moments of the championship game.
A game the Tigers won as time ran out.
In his own words,
“Only God can do this . . . .
I told them tonight the difference in the game is going to be love.
Love has been my word all year.
We’re going to win this game because we love each other.”
A football game?
Love always wins.
LOVE MUST WIN
I’m not a Tiger fan, but I love what Swinney said and what he stands for on and off the field. I love it because we need more of it.
Love is the missing link in our current cultural engagement. From the Grid-iron to the Grammys, we are a love-deficient people sinking in a collective ocean of desire that’s always geared to love.
Swinney’s emotional and moving comments are more profound than perhaps even he knows.
When Swinney declares – to a watching world – that love wins, he is drawing on a sacred past that has been all but forgotten. Love is so ancient that it’s credited with the birth of humanity. Indeed, when God created, He did so from love and for love.
In the Garden, for example, love was the norm – for a time. And, though we’ve lost our taste for love, moments like Swinney’s remind us that love is always lurking just around the corner, awaiting to be embraced.
Why is love so important? Because the pursuit of love is why we all get up in the morning. Every achievement, accolade, award, and recognition is a testimony to our desire to be loved.
LOVE: THE ONGOING RHYTHM OF KNOWING AND BEING KNOWN
One might say that love is birthed from an ancient experience of knowing and being known.
We do love as knowing and being known, partially at least, in our most life-giving relationships. Melissa and I have been married for nearly twenty-two years. Every day – every moment – we make both implicit and explicit decisions to extend or withhold love. As we extend love, we are giving ourselves to one another. This is an ongoing rhythm of knowing. As we receiving love, we are welcoming one another into ourselves. This is an ongoing rhythm of being known.
Swinney isn’t alone of course.
While love is rarely expressed as a source of victory on the grid-iron, it’s often been the companion of poets, artist, dreamers, and musicians. In every era, it seems, love seeks to be expressed and experienced.
Tina Turner (a great from my era) once quite mournfully asked, “What’s Love Got to Do With it?” as she danced her way into the arms of they who didn’t understand love, and sang her way into the hearts of we who long to be loved.
The Beatles once intoned, you “Can’t Buy Me Love,” as only the Beatles could!
More recently, groups such as the Lumineers have, in a spiritedly popish, yet uncommonly deep way, framed love as belonging. The simply profound lyrics of the song, such as
“I belong with you,
you belong with me,
you’re my sweetheart,”
have made it one that’s become a popular choice for wedding receptions everywhere!
Adele, one of my favorite vocalists, bellows a deep desire to be someone’s “One and Only,” in such a moving, powerful, and deeply emotional way that one cannot help but stand and cry in response, “Yes, I will.” Or, “Yes, that’s what I want, too!”
Each of these artists imagine – at least in part – the primordial truth that rests at the very heart of what it means to love and be loved. That is, love is an ongoing rhythm of knowing and being known! As such, love invites us to put others first. Love also invites us to offer ourselves – as fully and as authentically as we know how – to others.
LOVE: A SIGNATURE AFFECTION OF CREATION
A more Beautiful One – long before Swinney, Lennon, Adele, Sting, etc. – also encouraged us to love.
More than encourage, He lived by the ongoing rhythm of love. He was often vilified, hated, misunderstood, and marginalized.
Yet, he never wavered in this rhythm of love! Every opportunity, every life experience, every teaching moment was one in why he practiced this rhythm of knowing and being known. This ancient rhythm of love!
Indeed, love was not only central to his life, He characterized it as central to all life. Life, at least that’s fully human and wonderfully meaningful.
I am, of course, speaking of Christ. In his very life, being, and teaching, we find the deep well of eternal love.
LIFE IS BOUND BY OUR AFFECTIONS
When questioned regarding what’s essential in life, he boiled it down to two things. He told people, on more than one occasion, that the key to life is found in our loves.
The two were, and are:
- Love God.
- Love others.
This account, found in more than one Gospel, is beautifully captured in Matthew 22:
34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Jesus isn’t introducing a new thought. He’s simply building on the foundation the Father has already laid (more on that in coming posts).
In so doing, he reminds us how vitally important the rhythm of love is!
These two essential – vital, life-giving affections – are like the top two vertebrae on the spine. If they get out of whack, then all hell breaks loose.
And – all hell breaking loose – is exactly what we tend to experience in the larger cultural waters in which we swim.
We know little of love.
I’m convinced that we must reimagine and practice this ancient rhythm of love. It is, I believe, the key component if we are to reinvigorate our current Social Imaginary so that our experience with one another becomes life-giving and joy filled!
John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, and others like Dabo – yes, even football coaches – are right:
Love must win.
And, though I am not suggesting that all love is God, I do insist that God is love! I’d also contend that wherever we find, experience, or taste love – even in part – we capture a glimpse of the gospel of God in Christ.
In future posts I’m going to explore the source of this love, our reluctance toward it, and reflect on the power of the ongoing rhythm of love to shape society.
What’s love got to do with it?
Everything, and until it does, we all loose. When it reigns, we all win!
Disrupting to Renew!
I’d Love to Hear From You!