Tag Archives: Christianity in action

Love is something you do

A psychology professor who had no children of his own would frequently admonish a neighbour scolding a child, saying, “You should love your boy, not punish him”

One hot summer day, the professor repaired his concrete driveway. Tired after several hours of work, he laid down the trowel, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and started for the house.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a mischievous little boy putting his foot into the fresh cement. He rushed over and started ranting and raving at the child and was about to grab the child by the scuff of the neck, when his neighbour leaned from a window and said, “Watch it professor! Don’t you remember? You must love the child,”

At this the professor yelled back furiously, “I do love him, in the abstract, but not in the concrete.”

 

Sometimes that is all we want to do is think about love in the abstract.  It’s something to discuss,  something to philosophise about. But that’s not enough. Love is something you do.

Christ tells a story that illustrates this love in action. A man was in need. He had suffered a beating and was robbed on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. He was ignored by two people, a priest and a Levite both of whom mouthed the law of love but were afraid to act. His desperate need was met by a Samaritan who was willing to act graciously toward him.

When we think of love of people in general – outside our families, in the community, in the world, it’s not based on a feeling . It is essentially an action. Its about action not about natural inclination.

John in one of his epistles admonished his readers: “Little children, let us not love in word and speech, but in deed and in truth.”

In referring to the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus asked the lawyer in the Gospel, “Which of the three do you think was a neighbour to the one who fell into the hands of robbers?” He replied, “The one who had mercy on him”.

It wasn’t the one who talked about love, or professed love, or felt love but the one who acted in love.

And Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

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Little Christs*

Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

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Let us never underestimate the ministry of individuals in the world.

A few years ago, when I was a parish minister, I held a weekly bible study group.  It wasn’t well attended – perhaps about half a dozen folk…but it was interesting.  We’d study a Bible passage and our chat about it would lead to this topic and that…sometimes wandering far from the original point of discussion

One evening we talked about the Church’s involvement in the world and everyone was feeling that the church was not doing enough. I pointed out that the church was probably doing much more than they realised because the church was made up of people like themselves living out their ministry in the world.

There were only six or seven people in that little group.

But one of them worked in a hospital shop and wheeled the trolley round the wards.  Another helped with the Guides and helped nurture young girls above and beyond the call of duty.  A musical member volunteered her services once a week as a pianist at an old folks home to entertain the elderly residents.   Another worked in a charity shop.  And another took a disabled member of our congregation for regular trips to the country in his car.

But none of them had actually realised that what they were doing was Christlike in any way.  They hadn’t really cottoned on to the fact that this was ministry – that it was following Christ and living the kind of caring life that he showed us in the world.

What’s really important? I think that it is in giving ourselves and loving in such a way that others could say we made a difference in their lives. That is rendering to God that which is God’s. That is the challenge to us all

*   “little Christs”  One of the  early books by Martin Luther was The Freedom of a Christian (1520). In it, he wrote, “[A]s our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians….

 

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Faith in Action

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

~Stephen Colbert

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