Act with Love
April 26, 2015
by Gretchen Rehberg
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (1 John 3:16-18)
I have often said that if love can be commanded, love is not an emotion. I cannot tell you what to feel, but I can tell you what to do. And we are told over and over to love. Love one another, love as Jesus loved us, love our enemies, love our neighbors – we are commanded to love. This love is not simply a warm fuzzy feeling toward another, it is not even a deep caring feeling, it is concrete acts of service.
When Jesus commanded that his disciples love one another as he had loved them, Jesus had just finished washing their feet. Love is a concrete act of service. This is the love that John speaks of when he tells us to love in truth and action. John is telling us that we do not have God’s love in us if we see another in need and yet refuse to help. Often however, the problem is not refusing to help but not seeing the need.
I grew up in a relatively small town and often look back on my childhood through rose-colored glasses, but I was always aware there were kids in school that had a whole lot less than I did. I was surprised and saddened to hear that the mayor of that town recently declared that there were no homeless in the community. This is simply an inability to see the need right in front of him.
The Resurrection invites us to see the world in a new and different way. The Resurrection invites us into seeing with God’s eyes, to see past the normal social classifications, to see past cultural norms, to see past the walls that separate us, and see only beloved brothers and sisters who are in need.
What are the needs in your local community? Go to your local fire or police chief, or your school superintendent or city council and ask them “what worries you the most about this community, what keeps you up and night, what would you change if you could change one thing?” Then ask how you, and your congregation, might act with love to address the need. Then…act with love.
“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision?”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving