“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” ~1 John 4:7-11.

Words about love are beautiful. Love as a theory is compelling. As a concept, love is glorious and inspiring. It’s really nice.

But it’s also really safe. As an idea, love is non-threatening and non-risky. And it changes nothing. Love in the brain doesn’t do much for people or for the world.

You and I may think love, we may feel love, we may say love; but the Bible tells us that love does things. The love of God that’s been lavished on us in Christ Jesus is too powerful, it’s too full of holy potential, to be locked up like a prisoner behind our foreheads.

Love must be done — not just believed, not just admired, not just felt. It must do. Love can’t just be a noun, it must be a verb. It has to be expressed in tangible action.

This is how God showed his love among us: he thought good thoughts about us.
This is love: he felt love for us.
This is how we know what love is: God told us he loved us.

No! He sent. He gave. He sacrificed. He came here. He suffered and died. That’s love!

“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 and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother or sister in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” ~1 John 3:16-18

Love will change lives, love will change our city, it’ll change the whole world; but love has to be expressed with action. Love has to do stuff. Our Lord says we are the salt of the earth. But salt unapplied is just as worthless as bad salt. You’ve got to shake it. You can’t leave it in the pantry. Jesus calls us the light of the world. But a light under a bowl doesn’t do a cryin’ thing. You’ve got to climb up on a table and shine.

That’s the call. That’s the command. Whoever loves God must also love his brother and sister (1 John 4:21). Making the decision to love God necessarily means deciding to love others. And when you do, it’s a mixed bag. Showing God’s love to others opens you up to the very best and worst of people. You’re going to experience help and hurt, fun and frustration, compliments and complaints. That’s just the way people are.

But showing that love of God to others is so invigorating. It’s so life-giving. Making the decision to love all people — even people who are not easy to love — brings into sharp focus the life-changing power of God’s choice to love us, when you and I are not always so easy to love.

“We love because he first loved us.” ~1 John 4:19