The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.(1 John 4:21)
I remember several years ago, I was teaching a youth group about the importance of showingpeople their faith in Jesus. My question was, if you were going to tell people about your faith in Christ and were not allowed to use words, how would you do it? The relatively quick reply was, “Show them a powerpoint?” An option, to be sure, but not necessarily what I meant.
Far too often I hear people talkabout how much faith they have in God, or how we need to put all of our trust in Jesus and just believe – and that is the Christian life, right?
The problem is, that’s not what Jesus said or did. Christ’s life (not just his words) spoke volumes about what it really means to love God – and it was not something we find in constant quiet times or watching “Christian” movies or talking about how great it is to have faith with everyone around us. There are times and places for all of those practices. However, they have often become the norm, when they should be occasional habits.
It is really quite simple: if we really love God, we will love others. It’s not easy, but it is pretty straightforward. The focus of the Christian life is meant to be spent walking the path that Christ walked in service of others. Of course there should be time for self-care, which is essential and important. But self-care becomes self-obsession when it becomes our predominant way of life.
The question we should be asking, almost every second of every day is how can I show love? Will a smile brighten someone’s day? Will a kind hello offer a gentle reminder to that crying person that they are not alone? Will taking that phone call with a difficult family member or friend give them the solace they need to keep going? Will sparing change perhaps give someone the chance to eat or find safe shelter? Will a hug to your closest ones show them that yes, they matter just as much as everything else you do? Will this word or this action or this gesture offer compassion, grace, empathy, life, reconciliation?
There are myriads of ways that we can live out God’s love in our everyday lives. We do not have to look far to find the opportunity to tell people about our faith. It is just helpful to remember the words of St. Francis of Assisi as we do: preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.
The road of this Christ-filled faith is not easy, but it is likely to amaze us when we see our relationship with God come alive as our lives become more and more like that of our Lord and Savior.
Do love God. Then don’t just talk about it, but show God how much you love by caring for the face and body of Christ you see in everyone you meet.