“Tough Love” Week 1: Love in Action. Feast of the Presentation.
“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams” (- Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov). We kick off a three-week series this weekend which is all about how difficult it is to “love in action” and not just in dreams, and how to grow in Christian love. Christian love is tough and demanding, both for the giver and recipient, and it often doesn’t feel so good; parents know this very well. Just like physical exercise, we need to practice this kind of love, and we don’t grow to become people who love others, unless and until it is challenging to us, and we open our eyes to the challenge right in front of us. Christian love is not just a kind thought or feeling, but it is a deed, an action. For small groups or your private prayer, a good Bible passage to kick of this series is the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The Parable is preceded by Jesus’ teaching of the Greatest Commandment: to love God, and to love one’s neighbor. Jesus says, “Do this and you will live” (10:28). In other words, loving in action is entering into God’s very life! The scholar of the Law who confronts Jesus wishes to justify himself, and so he then asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). His implication is that Jewish people were only called to love other Jewish people, and certainly not the hated Samaritans or anybody else. Jesus’ answer to his question is the Parable. The Samaritan in the Parable is the one who shows mercy, going out of his way to help the wounded man on the path to Jericho. At the end, Jesus says, “Go and do likewise” (10:37). Notice in this passage that love of neighbor is connected with action verbs: “show mercy; go and do …” In other words, Christian love as defined by Jesus is not just a noun, but a verb. Over the course of this series, our aim is to grow in putting love in action. All of us want to love the people around us more deeply, but we all can agree that it can be an extremely hard task practically speaking. Who in your life are you struggling to love? Questions for Small Groups:
When have you found it much more difficult to love someone than you expected it to be?
What’s the difference between seeing love as a verb and love as a noun?
Read aloud Luke 10:36-37. What does this verse teach us about love?
Who is someone you want to work on loving during the course of this series? Who is your tough love? What would it look like for you to put love in action?
When was a time someone showed you love even though it didn’t feel very loving?
The passage from Luke connects loving God and our neighbor with inheriting eternal life. What is the connection between finding life and loving others?