When I was 12 I decided that I didn’t ‘do’ love. I hadn’t even had my heart broken yet, but the idea that there was this feeling that came over you that meant you were completely infatuated with another person, and wanted to do everything in your power to make them happy, seemed a little far-fetched to me. You may have a more valid reason for opting out. Anyone who has had their heartbroken or has had to listen to the tale of some poor lad/lass that has, and can see the pain heartbreak causes, is faced with the dilemma of whether they want to avoid that squishy, warm, passionate feeling A.K.A being in love with someone, or still buy in to the Hollywood fairytale that awaits us all. It goes like this:
Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy proposes, girl says yes, they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
Those of us who aren’t living in a Disney Daydream will know that life just isn’t that simple. The real life story has so many speed bumps and 3 point turns on the journey to perfect family life, many lose interest in the appeal that love once had. We allow the speed bumps to bring us to a complete halt and decide that we don’t DO love. I know it’s ungrammatical and sounds a lot like ‘I’m a woman scorned, all guys are the problem’ but opting out of the hope to fall in love is a decision many have made as a protection mechanism.
It becomes a bit problematic when you accept Christ. Now your whole life is love centred (God is love and our lives revolve around him, kind of like the planets-sun relationship in the solar system) and you’re supposed to walk in love. The problem is that we’ve let Hollywood give us a definition of what it means to ‘be in love’ and show love to others. I have a secret for you: What we ascribe ‘being in love’ to be, doesn’t actually have any real importance when we’re thinking about the love of Christ that we’re supposed to be showing others. Love is a noun and a verb but I think the doing word aspect of love has become side-lined by the attention that simply being in love on this island called love, is getting.
If you love me, keep my commands. John 14:15
Here Jesus is telling us the duty we have when we claim to love him. There is action involved in love. Lots of us ‘fall in love’ with Jesus and then spend all our time after that point deciding if we fancy obeying God in the various aspects of our lives. This island of love idea that we’ve created, where everyone who ‘loves’ God arrives and just stays there is based on the fact that we feel that being love is a state of mind, a feeling that has the words warm and fuzzy attached to it, but this isn’t what God has depicted love to be. Other translations of John 14:15 say, ‘If you love me, you WILL obey my commands. There’s just no way to avoid the doing aspect attached to love. It’s nice to fantasize about what it will be like to BE in love but being in love is expressed through what you DO. There is little point in the feeling of love without acting upon it. Imagine if John 3:16 said, ‘For God so loved the world that whenever he thought about the people on Earth his heart filled with warmth towards them and he gave them loving looks from heaven whilst watching them all die on Earth and perish in hell. I know you’re thinking ‘hey now Dani, that’s a bit harsh’, but that is how ridiculous it is to diminish love to being this ‘nice’ feeling in our hearts that causes us to look fondly towards people.
For God so loved that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Our whole lives, and the promise of heaven that awaits us after death is based on the fact that God wasn’t merely IN love, he DID love. What would it look like to follow his example of doing love?
Last week I was convicted of my lack of love for God. Telling God I loved him had become some kind of cover up for the fact that my actions weren’t a reflection of the love that was supposed to be in my heart. Maybe you can relate, I’ve listed a few warning signs below.
God, I haven’t read your word and meditated on it day and night but I love you.
Lord, I don’t even think about praying for someone other than myself but I love you.
Father, I just can’t be bothered to re-arrange my plans so that I have time to invest into the lives of others but I love you.
Jesus, I don’t care if other people come to know you before they die but I love you.
What kind of love is that?
Just because we feel strong positive feelings towards God, doesn’t mean that we love him. You don’t arrive at a place called ‘loving God’ and hang out there long enough so when you need to ask him for something you don’t feel like you’re using God. We mustn’t forget that loving God is a doing thing.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:34-36
Jesus is telling the disciples about what will happen when he comes back again. If we’re including ourselves as part of the group of people that are inheriting the kingdom of God, then we should also be the people that are feeding those who don’t have any food and helping those in need. All of these things are simply what Christ expects of us. People criticise sermons that are about ‘how we can show love’ for not being ‘deep’ enough but whilst everyone is finding intricate new ways to chase after their blessings, who is carrying the shopping bags of the elderly and driving people home that are too unwell for public transport? We can’t be preaching about a God who loves the world, meanwhile our actions only reflect the love we have for ourselves.
This week I was thinking about what it means to love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul and was left pondering the last time I’d actively shown someone love. As Christians there’s no opting out of doing love. There’s no denying that we have been blessed with the love of God, it’s worth thinking about what we can do to bless others with love. We can do better than lip service, let’s love God with our actions from here on out.
Love you all,