“Love is the movement/love is the revolution/this is redemption/we don’t have to slow back down.” – Switchfoot, “Love is the Movement
“Love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or planning for it. Simply put: love does.” – Bob Goff, “Love Does”
“Maybe I’m just idealistic to assume that truth could be fact and form/that love could be a verb, maybe I’m just a little misinformed…” – Switchfoot, “Let Your Love Be Strong”
“‘You’ve got it all wrong,’ he said/‘There’s hope at every turn,’ he said/‘you just don’t want to see it/for you’ve become satisfied/with resting your rested eyes/and you think of hope as a word instead of being it.’” – Doug Mains and the City Folk, “Broken Windows”
When it comes to love, many people have already spoken the truth of the matter more eloquently than I ever could, like Jon Foreman or Bob Goff. Sure, plenty of other people have spoken about love and gotten their facts upside down and backwards, but it’s pretty easy to tell who’s wrong and who’s really loving. For example, there’s this one guy, a whole lot older than me and, seeing as how some of his writing got to be part of the Bible, probably a bit better with his words than I am. Better at writing letters, at least.
Anyway, the point is that this guy, John, is famous among his Bible-writing peers for writing a letter so full of truth about love and what it really looks like that God pretty much marked it a must-read for all of His kids. Near the end of the letter, John makes a statement much like the ones I quoted up there – concise, memorable, and brimming with truth and profundity. His statement is a lot shorter, though. It just says, “God is love.”
They may not seem that similar, the four quotes about how love is a matter of doing and the one about God, but it seems to me that what Bob and Jon and Doug have to say about love comes straight out of what John has to say about God.
You see, John didn’t say that God feels love, or that God experiences love, or even that God gives or offers love. He said that God is love, that everything God feels and gives and offers and does comes out of the love at the center of His being. In saying that God is love, John is telling us that with God, love isn’t just a matter of doing, everything He does is a matter of love.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Bible, it’s that following Jesus means taking our cues on what life should look like from God. So if God is love, it seems pretty obvious to me that following Jesus means we’ve got to be love, too, just like He is.
It means we can’t settle for feeling or thinking or planning or empathizing because that isn’t love. Love is reaching out and doing what it takes to make things right, to overcome evil with good.
It means that when you see someone who needs love, whether they’re a stranger begging for change on the street or a friend who’s lost sight of what their life is worth, what they really need is you. They need you to stop thinking of love as a noun and of hope as a word and to be it. And if you’re really following Jesus, there’s no other way to be.