When someone’s in love, it shows. It may be that dreamy look or an absent-mindedness that gives it away. It’s certainly also revealed in the frequency with which the loved one is named in their conversation. And we’re most convinced it’s a lasting love when it’s reflected in a person’s actions—what they do for the one they say they love.
We who serve in the church are often people of action, and the people we spend time with are often the same. We’re busy. Our schedules are full–or we feel guilty if they’re not! So it’s wise to periodically examine what fuels our actions.
In the book of Revelation, God had messages for seven specific churches in Asia. He praised the people of the church at Ephesus for their deeds, their hard work, their perseverance and how they had endured hardships and “not grown weary.” He also praised them for their doctrine—they knew true apostles from false. “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen!” (Rev. 2:2-5) Ouch!
The Bible isn’t primarily a rule book or a book of doctrine. It tells a story–the greatest love story ever—of God’s preparations for the arrival of his Son, of the life and death and resurrection of that Son Jesus Christ, and of the difference Jesus made in the lives of his followers. The Bible is a personal invitation to each of us to accept that love.
Our human nature supplies many reasons for serving: we want to be liked or noticed, we’re bored, it makes us feel important, we feel guilty if we don’t. But only one reason bears the fruit Jesus is seeking: love. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. . . . You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. . . . This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15: 9, 16, 17)
25 years ago, an acquaintance of mine, a woman with whom I car-pooled our children to preschool, made a statement I’ve never forgotten. She was not a Christian and in some conversation that had nothing to do with religion, she said, “I think everyone’s most basic need is to be loved.” I was struck dumb in surprise that a non-Christian would so succinctly state the need that God fills.
People do need to be loved. When we’re busy in all the ways we volunteer at church, when we’re busy with our many tasks as church staff and leaders, if our love for Jesus doesn’t show through, if people can’t see it in our eyes, hear it from our lips, and know it from our actions, our work doesn’t do all Jesus wants it to, especially for those who don’t yet know him as their Lord. The great love chapter, I Corinthians 13, reminds us that my best efforts, even if I “give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,” are nothing without love.
My prayer for each of us: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.” (1 Thes. 3:12)
When someone’s in love, it shows.