Love in Action
Some years, Valentine’s Day completely passes me by, other years I really struggle with it. I don’t struggle because I hate celebrating love, or other people celebrating their love, nor because I hate those fluffy ‘I love you’ teddy bears (although I do think they’re awful!). The reason I struggle with Valentine’s Day is because it represents such a narrow view of love.
Love is so much more than what the corporate Valentine’s Day marketing, romcom films and Love Island TV would have us believe. Seeing love through the narrow view of romance deprives us of celebrating the love between friends, love found in community, and the love shown to strangers. It also, crucially, forgets the power of God’s unconditional love.
So, what does love actually look like?
You might have heard that love in its purest form looks like God – God is love (1 John 4:7-9). When love is put in to action, that’s where its true power is unleashed. God didn’t just love us from afar but sent Jesus to be love in action for us to see.
But love also looks like us reflecting God’s love – ‘No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.’ (1 John 4:12)
And, of course, that doesn’t just look like romantic love. There’s love in action all around us. (I’m trying really hard not to sound like I’m quoting Love Actually here!)
So what does love in action look like for us?
Love in action is my housemate paying for my bagel, because she ‘never gets to buy me lunch’.
Love in action looks like the 90-year-old Church Army supporter who faithfully sends her cheque for £5 from her pension because she’s known Jesus’ faithfulness her whole life and wants others to know that too.
Love in action looks like Church Army Evangelist Kathy Green who’s warm, joyful laugh, and the way she listens so well helps point terminally ill children and their parents towards hope, whilst also being able to sit with them in their pain.
Love in action looks like Stephen Plumb saying hello to everyone he walks past in Hackney, taking the time to have a proper chat, whether it’s the first time he’s met them or not.
Love in action looks like my colleague who left a chocolate bar on my desk with a note that said ‘You’re doing a great job’ on a day I felt like I really wasn’t doing a great job.
Love in action is our interim CEO, Des Scott, asking every plumber, electrician, and IT technician that comes to our offices how they are (and meaning it).
Love in action looks like Church Army Evangelist Jane Emson, moving away from her church and networks in Sheffield to a deprived estate in Middlesbrough, because she knows God can use her to share the good news of Jesus there, where there’s very little church presence.
So what should we do?
As a Church, we say we’re all about love, but too often we fall into the trap of focusing on marriage and romantic relationships, forgetting about all the other types of love. Or we say we’re passionate about the world being more kind, generous, and caring for the most vulnerable, but we don’t always put our love in to action.
Let’s change this. Let’s be people known for loving everyone. And for being people who put our love in to action. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.