Daily Devotion for April 17, 2021

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (1 John 3:18)

Five words grab my attention – children, love, speech, truth, and action.  As I reflect on children, a flood of words fills my head – innocence, joy, volatility, ignorance, curiosity, learning, growing, dependent, emotional – a blessed immaturity that is fertile soil for transformative development.  This is who we are in relationship to God: little children unaware of all we don’t know and of how immense God’s creation actually is.

Love.  A word we use all too casually (I love pie!) and all too carelessly.  We experience different levels and aspects of human love, and we project our limited human capacity for love on God.  I truly do not believe we can begin to comprehend the immensity and scope of God’s love for us.  We toss around the term “unconditional love,” but then we place conditions on it.  One of my favorite emails came from someone who challenged my use of the phrase unconditional love.  He wrote, “Of course God offers unconditional love, but only to those who deserve it!”  Many of us have experienced God’s love in our own lives, but have a difficult time sharing it with other people.

Speech.  Oh, don’t we love to talk? And we talk a good game.  We say many wonderful things, but we don’t always “walk the talk.”  We use words to communicate a lot of wonderful ideas, but then nothing seems to change.  We talk about racial justice, global community, gender equality, world peace, and a host of other lofty concepts, but what we say and what we do don’t always align well.  We are instructed to practice what we preach, but it is so much easier to tell other people what they should do, instead of doing it ourselves.  Perhaps we talk too much and avoid listening, or even better silence.

Truth.  Jesus nailed this one – “what is truth?”  We like to believe in universal, eternal, and ever-lasting truth, but in our daily living, truth is generally a relative term.  What is true for me might not be true for you, and when I try to impose my truth on others, problems ensue.  Together we seek truth, and it is worth our time and effort to discern and celebrate what is true, but within the humility to acknowledge with the apostle Paul, we know and see only in part, and our understanding is always incomplete.

Action.  Movement.  Activity.  Service.  Sacrifice.  The life of Christian discipleship is never passive; always active.  Many modern Christians are too satisfied to merely attend church, worship together, then go home.  But we are called to actively live our faith 24/7/365 (366 in leap years) and we don’t get time off for bad behavior.  Active engagement requires movement and energy.  We are doers of the Word, not hearers only.

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Prayer:  Loving God, proud and divine parent of all your children, be patient with us as we grow and learn and develop and become the people you need us to be, proclaiming good news not only in our words, but also in our actions.  We ask this in the name of Jesus the Christ.  Amen.