Loving In Deed
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. I John 3: 18 [ESV] One of the major criticisms Jesus had of the religious leaders of His day was they talked a big game but didn’t walk the walk. They had an intense desire to feel righteous and appear morally superior to those around them but it had little to no impact on their actions. Biblical love, however, is supposed to change how we act, it is to make us less selfish and more giving in very direct and personal ways. After Christ had risen and new Christian churches were founded, this issue obviously continued. And to counter this ongoing human tendency John reminds us in his first letter that we are not to love only in what we say but in how we act. I believe if he were writing his first letter to us in the modern church, chapter 3 verse 18 might read something such as: American Christians, don’t think that what you say, how you vote, the hashtags you trend or the pages you like on social media are sufficient. You must love with your actions. You must be making personal sacrifices for the benefit of others, if you are to walk in the footsteps of our Lord. We know there are always lonely widows and people sick in our country but it has also been reported that America has the highest rate of incarceration of any developed country in the world, that the percentage of children in single parent homes is rising, that the suicide rate in the U.S. is up and that our immigration system is a mess. With all those issues confronting us, what is our response? Though they are the modern-day fallbacks, blogging and boycotting and leveraging social media simply isn’t enough. It’s not that those approaches can’t have an impact. The #metoo movement brought serious momentum and light to a very real issue (which I discuss in my book, Clear Vision) but retweeting a message or voting for a politician in the hope that they will solve the problem on society’s behalf is not all that Jesus calls us to do. What, then, is Christ looking for? Based on His actions and those of His Apostles, I would say nothing short of getting personally involved in the lives of others. For example, personally visiting the sick and lonely, working side by side with released convicts to help them assimilate back into society, mentoring a young person from a broken home on a weekly basis, becoming involved with support groups for teens with depression or women who have suffered domestic violence. The Dreamers need people to assist them in navigating through their college and professional options. As we are challenged in these ways, our response is often “but my life is super busy and those types of initiatives would require me to completely restructure my schedule, give up some of my activities and perhaps even cost me a little money”. And Jesus would reply “Exactly!” Not walking the talk has been an issue for humans since the beginning of time. It may take different forms today (from watching TV shows which support our viewpoints of the world, through how we interact with social media to the politicians we vote for) but Jesus still cries out to us that a direct involvement in the lives of others, especially one which costs us personally, is what He is looking for. Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.