Love is a verb. You can write that down.
This statement may sound familiar to you because just a few weeks ago, I said faith is a verb. So now here I am claiming that love is a verb. Sometimes we think we can love in the abstract—warm, fuzzy feelings for people in general. But no, love is not so much a feeling as it is a verb, active, face-to-face, hand-to-hand—and messy . . .
This week, we hear again Luke’s famous story about a lawyer who came to Jesus seeking eternal life. I’m not sure what “eternal life” meant to him exactly, how a first century Jew might have thought about it, but Jesus’ answer is pretty clear: Love. The way to life is love. Love God. Love one another. Love the neighbor. Love the stranger. Love the enemy, the unlovely, and the unlovable. “But who is my neighbor?” the lawyer negotiates for specific rules and clear guidelines . . .
The startling reversal in Jesus’ story about the Good Samaritan is that there—right there in the messy life of that uncomfortable person—God’s own presence exists. There—right there in the lives of “those people”—God’s own purposes are at work. There—right there in one whom we might distrust, disrespect, and maybe even hate—love can be embodied.
I have claimed that love is not a feeling; love is a verb. And yes it is. But of course love also is deep emotion. There is a saying you may have heard: “act as if . . .”
Act as if something is true, and it may actually become true. Act as if you love someone, act with proactive loving acts, then, lo and behold, pretty soon the reality of love grows, not just in our acting but also in our thinking and in our feeling as well.
What would happen if Christians actually fell head over heels in love with all the people whom God loves? How would that change our world?
When love of God becomes our center, everything is transformed! Surely this truth provides context for the foundational text from Deuteronomy.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”Deut 6:4
For people of God, loving God provides the ground and center for everything we are and everything we do with our lives.
As we lean into God’s love and offer wholehearted love back to God (as wholehearted as we can manage), we also find more ability to love the neighbor—and even the enemy. It’s a cycle of life and a circle of love.
Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle. Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (p. 229-232). Resource Publications. Kindle Edition.