If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. – 1 Corinthians 13:1 (MSG)
I love to watch one of our setup guys at Lifeline Community Church. Being a church that sets up and tears down weekly takes a lot of time and effort. This particular guy comes early, cranks up his praise and worship, and as it fills the auditorium he goes to work for about a solid hour. I have never heard him talk about how much he loves his church, but his actions show that he loves his church and wants it to succeed.
If you love your spouse, you will work to maintain your marriage. If you love your job, you will do your best because you want your company to succeed. If you love your children, you will intentionally spend time with them. If you love your school, you will listen in class, bring your materials, and to the best of your ability you will work for it. You wouldn’t even think of “Christmas treeing” a test which would produce a score that would make your school look bad. If you love God, you will pursue Him relentlessly and serve Him wholeheartedly. To me, love is the action that should always accompany your words.
I say that to say this: There are two things that I haven’t been able to erase from my mind these past few weeks. The first involved a conversation that I overheard about being a Christian. Several people were roasting a guy who said he was a Christian and were calling him a hypocrite. All he could say in return with was, “You don’t get to judge me!” They were claiming that they had caught him in several lies and that his life just didn’t line up with his beliefs. As I thought about this person, he had lied to me several times; he made excuses for absolutely everything he did wrong, blamed others, and never took responsibility for his own actions. I thought, “I hate it dude, but your judgers are correct. If you speak of being a Christian, and don’t show love by doing the simple things you know are right, you are as annoying as a creaky, rusty gate.”
The other situation involved my alma mater. The little school that I attended for 13 years and then worked at for 17 years is currently on the chopping block. As our numbers have declined over the years, good old-fashioned economics continues to work against us. The blade of the guillotine hasn’t dropped yet, but all that is left is for a vote to let go of the rope. I’m not here to argue whether or not the blade should drop or not. I’m here to tell you what I saw.
I went to the last school board meeting and saw nearly 200 people pack the place. I looked around and was amazed at how many people I knew. Many were alumni from decades back. Many were current students. Many were in between. All were saying, “don’t close our school.”
Now, I believe the vast majority of the people who were there genuinely love the school. I saw faces of people who sacrifice their time, their efforts, and even their money to support it. You know they love the school because love does. Then, I saw the faces of some who actually harmed the school. Here they were saying, “I love this school,” but I know that all they did for the most part was stir up dissention and use the school for their own social entertainment. They would not bring a pencil, bring books, bring a halfway decent attitude, nor would they show an ounce of effort inside the school walls. In fact, if the teachers and parents did not absolutely do everything in their power to beg and plead them to do their work, absolutely nothing would have actually gotten done.
So, here is the point: All of the people at the meeting said they loved the school and wanted it to stay put. Not all actually loved the school because even though they said they loved it, they did absolutely nothing for it other than show up as a consumer.
In the same way, Google just told me that 83% of Americans call themselves Christians. 4 out of 5 people in the U.S. say, “I love God.” How many of these actually follow through when it comes time to show that love? I see people who would rather have their sexual immorality than actually live by the teachings of Jesus. I see people who would rather be lazy and take short cuts than work like Colossians 3:23 tells us to work, “as unto the Lord, not for men.”
Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m not claiming to be some prime example of a Christian. I have spent more than my share of years as a horrible example of what it looks like to follow Christ. However, upon giving my life to Him, my desire to represent Him well has always been there. Slowly, over time, he is molding me and shaping me into His masterpiece. In no way have I “arrived,” but I will keep doing that which I know is right and continue to seek after Him.