I’m thrilled to launch the 2019 Blog Tour. Once again I’ve had the opportunity to team up with some terrific writers to share their hearts and talents with you. This year we explore the theme “Love in Action”. I pray you’re encouraged by the articles headed your way over the next few weeks. Today, I get the tour started with one of my own.
How many definitions do you know for love?
If you’ve spent a few years in church, you’ve probably come across agape, phileo, maybe eros and if you’re a serious student, perhaps also storge. And they’re just the Greek words!
In English we struggle to find words to differentiate between loving our car, our cat, and our spouse.
Are there even words that describe the feeling of gazing at that individual on the school bus, across the aisle and up three rows. The individual that slows time, but accelerates the pulse. The individual that surely represents perfection in human skin. Perfection that will make your life complete… if they ever notice you. Are there words for her glance, or his smile?
Many ways exist to theorise concerning love. We can define it. We can seek to describe it. We can imagine it. We can sing or write about it. Each of these options contain merit.
Love in theory is a wonderful thing.
Love in theory contains no flaws.
In theory, love is patient and kind. In theory it celebrates other people’s accomplishments and doesn’t boast about its own. Theoretically, it always puts other people ahead of itself. Not only does avoid anger, it also doesn’t even keep records of the hurts, frustrations and disappointments that could prompt anger. In theory love is beautiful. It protects, trusts, hopes and never comes with an expiry date.
Love-in-theory creates expectations. Whether those expectations are achievable or not depends upon the individual’s theory. But we need love-in-theory.
As valuable as love-in-theory is, it only tells a part of the story.
Love-in-theory is comparable to the thoughts and prayers sent to victims in the wake of natural disasters and violence. In many ways, prayer provides the greatest response to tragedy. It petitions God to act in situations where we have no answers. What greater power can be applied to a disaster than the power of Yahweh?
But sometimes… many times… most times… God expresses his love and power through his children, the church. If the church focuses too much on prayer, it will never fulfill its function as the hands and feet of God.
God longs for his people to pray… and comfort the hurting.
God longs for his people to pray… and feed the hungry.
God longs for his people to pray… and stand against injustice.
God longs for his people to pray… and make friends across racial barriers.
God longs for his people to pray… and rebuild brokenness.
God longs for his people to pray… while speaking and being his Good News to the world.
Love-in-theory dwells in idealism. In contrast, love-in-action dwells in imperfection. Love-in-action is most often found in the messes and turmoil of life. When things aren’t perfect, love springs into action. This explains why Scripture encourages us that, “love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Sins require more love than our idyllic impression of perfection can ever generate.
Love-in-theory motivates and inspires. We all need this motivation and inspiration. The key question remains, “How does love-in-theory prompt us to act?” Does it inspire us to retreat inwardly to a dream world of perfection? Or does it motivate us to take practical steps toward improving the world we live in.
Love-in-action effects change.
I recently saw an internet meme that said, “Marriage is your spouse constantly standing in front of the cabinet or drawer you need to open.” How we respond to repeated mundane frustrations like this demonstrates our progress at converting love-in-theory into action.
The apostle John wrote, “Don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.” (1 John 3:18 VOICE)
Let’s commit to turning our love-in-theory into love-in-action. Together, as the hands and feet of God, we can change the world we love.
Peter Horne moved to the United States from Australia in 1999 to pursue training for ministry. Having filled the roles of children’s minister, youth minister, and college minister in various locations around the US and Australia, he has served as the minister for the Lawson Rd Church of Christ in Rochester, NY since 2008. He is married to Julie who constantly finds him standing in front of cabinets and drawers she needs to open, but loves him anyway.