Love is…

3 Jun
… a verb. Or so the Bible maintains. Love isn’t a statement, or a feeling. It is impossible for love to exist merely as a feeling without any action resulting from it. To say "I love you", and then do nothing, is akin to saying "I hug you" and standing there with your arms crossed. It’s nonsensical; it’s meaningless; it’s simply not true.
If your father repeatedly tells you "I love you", but never provides for you, never spends any time with you, never gives up even half an hour of his day to listen to you, never includes you in anything he does, never embraces you, and never turns up to watch you play in a football match or a concert, then frankly you begin to disbelieve him. You don’t experience all of that treatment and then be reassured by thinking, "ah, but it’s okay, I know he loves me – he told me so." No, you think, "he says he loves me but he doesn’t." Why? Because instinctively you know that love is not just a matter of words or a feeling, it is a verb. And that father is not loving you, and no amount of protesting words can paper over that.
On the other side of the coin, love that truly is love does not even need words to back up its existence. It speaks for itself. If my boyfriend tell me he loves me, well, that remains to be seen. However, when after a tiring week and a sleepless night and instead of going to have fun with his friends, he stays on all afternoon in the church kitchen with me, doing an industrial amount of washing up for which I am soley responsible, and is still laboriously but uncomplainingly sorting spoons into separate drawers four hours later – to tell me he loves me then is unecessarily stating the blindingly obvious.
People can tell you "God loves you" til the cows come home and you won’t believe it. "Yeah, yeah. Why doesn’t he make me rich and happy and stop bad things happening to me, then?" we ask. We are just flatly unconvinced by these nice little platitudes. We know that words don’t prove anything. And we don’t see any practical evidence; we see no action; we see no love.
And we need action – we desperately need someone who really cares and truly loves us to come and rescue us, and make it all better. I knew I was in trouble – guilty as charged and not who I should be, and disconnected somehow from this vague God up there who was supposed to love me, though I couldn’t think why he would. We are in a desperate mess thanks to all our stupid arrogance, and we are crying out for help. We’ve messed up our world and our lives and no-one can help, and where is this God who says he loves us?
Well, then I saw him, and I saw love. Here he is:
He has crossed dimensions, humbled himself beyond humility to be encased in human flesh, been born into poverty and been homeless and hunted, misunderstood and disbelieved, persecuted, slandered, spat on, betrayed and tortured, and there he hangs, naked, torn to pieces and bleeding human blood which should by rights be mine and yours – just to save you from the fate worse than death that you justly deserve. His life for yours. In the garden that night he cries and trembles and wrestles with the horror of it, but he decides to do it anyway. What force in all the universe could drive someone to this? Your life, your company, is worth this unthinkable act. That is the loudest, clearest statement I have ever seen written without words. There hangs God, and suddenly I can’t even remember how to phrase that ludicrous question: "do you love me?"
Love is a verb. And it operates in blood, sweat and tears. That is how God loves us. And please, let us do likewise. If God loves outrageously, his church ought to do the same. Words are cheap. But love can cost everything.  
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
– 1 John 3:16-18.

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