A few years ago I was talking to a friend of mine about prayer life and how we used scripture in our personal prayer lives. In the course of our conversation, she told me that she was currently using 1 Corinthians 13 to learn how to love better. At the time, I could not fathom that this person, who seemed to be so full of love from my perspective, found it important to meditate on the words that Paul offers in 1 Corinthians 13, and it led me to wonder about the nature of love and how we are able to enter into the action of love. For me, it inspired deep questions about the role of love in our lives not merely as a noun – that is to say, not as something that is given away but rather something that we do in an effort to live more fully into the cruciform life of Christ. The reflections on the nature of love began to float on the fringe of my thoughts and continued to resurface over the next several years, but the question was not a question of defining a thing. Instead, the questions began to evolve into questions of being and doing. The questions that continued to surface in my own thoughts and prayers were (and continue to be) questions of entering into, to quote the moral theologian James Keenan, the chaos of my own life in order to encounter the divine that dwells within me and to share that divinity with others. Though I started with love as a noun, as a thing that is to be shared, I ended up at the place of recognizing love as an action that is at the center of all that we do as disciples of Jesus Christ. Love is the single most difficult thing that Christ calls us to do in our daily lives, and it is the single greatest commandment that Christ gives to us.
In giving us a command to do something, Christ is actually giving us a command to be. The doing in our daily lives informs who it is that we become as persons; our daily doing, which we call living, defines through action what we have to say about what it means to be as a disciple. Continue reading