Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. They fished till darkness fell, after which they built a campfire, grilled the fish they had caught, ate their fill, and drank their coffee. Holmes played a few tunes on his violin, and then they turned in. During the middle of the night, Holmes awoke Watson and said: “Dr. Watson, look above you. What do you see?” Watson peered into the night sky and answered: “Well, Holmes, I see millions and millions of stars.” Holmes continued: “And, Watson, what does that tell you?” Watson thought for a second and then replied: “Well, astronomically it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologicallyit tells me that Saturn is aligned with Leo. Horologically I can deduce that the time is about a quarter past three. Theologically I can see that God is all powerful and that we are God’s creation. And meteorologically I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does the night sky and all the stars tell you, Holmes?” Holmes answered: “It tells me that while we were sleeping, somebody came and stole our tent!
Sometimes we get so bogged down in philosophy and the whole cerebral approach to life, and even to Faith, that we miss the obvious. For our purposes as Christians, the obvious is this: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God, for God is love.” (I John 4:7-8) For the Christian, it really is all about Love. Read the 4th chapter of I John sometime. It articulates Who God is and why you and I were created.
Don’t miss that last phrase: “why you and I were created.” You and I were not created to become wealthy, though there is nothing wrong with material things so long as they are honestly earned and compassionately used. You and I were not created to become famous, though there is nothing wrong with fame so long as it provides a stage on which to influence others for righteousness and Truth. You and I were not created to become powerful, though there is nothing wrong with power so long as it is employed not to oppress or manipulate but for the common good. At the end of the day, though, you and I were created for one purpose and one only – to love. So says I John chapter 4. And, so said Jesus: “This is my commandment, that you love one another even as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) That’s it. You and I were created to love.
As you are aware, four words were used in ancient Greek thought to describe what love looks like: Eros (sensual or romantic), Philia (friendship), Storge (familial or parental), and Agape (unconditional God-like). Each is an action word – not simply something we feel, but instead something we do about what we feel. Love is never merely intellectual or philosophical. We make it that too often in church. It is so easy to sing about love and preach about love and pray about love and teach about love without ever putting love into practice. But, mere words or thoughts do not live up to the definitions. Eros without expression is mere pining. Philia without expression is mere admiration. Storge without practice is mere acknowledgement of shared DNA. And Agape without expression may be unconditional but is also ungodly. How does the Bible put it? “Little children., let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:18) Bottom line: Love without action is not love at all.
So, you and I are created to turn “Love” into a verb, not merely to feel but more so to do. A good practice for Christians every evening is to review the day with the question in mind: “What did I do today that put love into action?” If we cannot think of anything, then we spent a full day falling short of why we were created. But, if we see moments when we practiced forgiveness or patience, when we extended sympathy or some unexpected act of kindness, when we encouraged or inspired someone who was running short on hope, when we were gracious or charitable, when we lightened another’s burden an ounce or two, when we gave a person their smile back, then we have lived into our Divine purpose. Because, I reiterate, that’s why we’re here. You and I were created as agents of love, conduits through whom the goodness and grace of God are shared with a wounded, weary world. Have you put love into action yet today? I suspect you have. But if you have not, then quit reading and do something, however large or small, to live into the reason God put you here.