From the Pulpit: Love – The call

Pastor Ben Zabel, Living Springs Church
I am writing this from a dining room table in Ohio, in the middle of a thunderstorm. My family and I stopped at my parents’ home on our way home from a wedding I officiated in Rhode Island this past weekend. I was asked to officiate the wedding by a friend that I graduated from high school with almost 20 years ago. What a joy to get to share that day with her and her (now) husband!
The purpose of this trip has had me thinking about love a lot, mostly because I needed to figure out what to share for the homily (mini-sermon) from 1 John 4:7-19. What I found in that passage is fueling my thoughts for the articles I am writing and that I’d be honored if you read this month. Hopefully this theme of love will speak to you regardless of what is going on in your heart or life, and regardless of whether you know and love Jesus or not.
The passage I was tasked with sharing from at the wedding and that I mentioned in the previous paragraph starts out like this: “Beloved, let us love one another.” (1 John 4:7 NIV). In this simple phrase, God places a call on our lives to love one another. But what is “love”? What is the author of this passage calling us to? Is it an emotion? Is it a feeling? Is it an urge or a longing? What is the calling we are being given?
In our culture, and I think in our world as a whole, love is something very fleeting. This is because we see ourselves as passive in love. We think and say things like, “I fell in/out of love” or “I don’t think I love them anymore”. Our language and feelings around love have an air of passivity, as if love is something that happens to me. This allows us to abdicate our responsibility in what we do (or don’t do) in our relationships. “It’s not my fault, I’m in love with her” or “What was I supposed to do? I fell out of love with him.”
What we see here in 1 John 4:7, though, is a calling to action. The word “love” here is a verb, so it is an action. When we are called to love one another, it is a call to loving actions toward one another. “Beloved, act lovingly toward one another” gets past our passivity and gets right at the Biblical calling to love in action. If you live life with real people, though, this is not easy. But more on that next week!


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