Love and faith.
One of those words is important to everybody, and the other is important to a lot of people. What I’ve noticed about both, though, is that we often use them as trump words, or trump feelings. No matter what we say or do that contradicts the definition of each, we find ourselves saying, “..but I love him!” or “…but all that matters is that I have faith.”
“Love is all you need” and “faith is all it takes” are true statements to an extent, but that doesn’t mean that they can stand alone. Faith and love are action words, not simple principles that come without diligent involvement and commitment.
From a Christian perspective, faith is, in fact, the most important part of salvation. However, the Bible implicitely says that “faith without deeds is dead.” This is not to encourage “rules” and legalism, but is an extension of the common phrase Then show it! When someone says they love you, but are belittling, dismissive, and unloyal, you’d probably say “well, show it” if they continue to claim that they love you. What you say and what you do have to match up, right? Same with faith. If you say you believe in Jesus Christ, then shouldn’t your actions follow? How can you say you follow him if you never make an effort to actually follow him with your decisions and behavior? Both love and faith are simply empty words if not paired with action.
I want to reiterate that this isn’t about perfection or rules. Rather, when you truly embody these ideals, you can’t help but reflect them in your essence. For instance, anyone who knows me, knows I’m really really really obsessed with my husband. I talk about him all the time. I go out of my way to make sure my actions are respectful towards him whether he’s around or not. I’m faithful, attentive, patient (at least I really try to be), and thoughtful.
My faith in God should elicit the same sort of thing– behavior that matches what I say. It’s not even about “trying” (though intentional effort is definitely part of it). It’s about love and faith driving our behavior because it’s natural to want to do the things that come along with those feelings and beliefs. Sharing my faith should bubble out in the same way my love for Aaron bubbles out. Currently, I’m challenging myself to make sure my love for God is even greater than my love for Aaron. It’s simply part of who I am to love my husband through actions, so how much more should that be the case for God? Sure, I sometimes fail, and sometimes have to actively “try” to be a good wife, but most of the time, it comes as a natural response to the love I feel. So should be my faith.
Putting the faith aspect aside for a moment, my love expands beyond Aaron. I love my parents, siblings, friends, and even strangers and acquaintances. It’s really, really easy for me to feel love, though I need to make sure I’m showing that love. Am I being thoughtful about their needs? Am I reaching out to show them encouragement and support? Am I patient, kind, and generous? It’d be impossible to give everyone the same energy I give Aaron, but those efforts should still be evident. Love is so much more than saying a word. It’s a reflector. You can see it, feel it, and work on making it brighter.
There’s so much danger that comes with using love and faith as trump words. With faith, “just believing” without letting the magnitude of your beliefs infiltrate your thoughts and actions is not only disrespectful to God and taking salvation for granted, but it pushes other people away from Him, too. It all seems fake and hypocritical, which will do nothing in the way of inspiring faith in nonbelievers. And with love, saying the word without truly being motivated by the depth of the expression is a recipe for unhealthy relationships, damaged psyches, and never getting to fully experience the breadth of joy that true, bright, active love can bring into your life (and others’).
I think we all cringe when we see a couple who constantly puts each other down or is inconsiderate of the other party’s needs, but stay together because “we’re passionately in love!” Sure, you might feel something similar to a “high” on occasion, but love is so much more than a feeling. It’s a feeling, yes, but when taken seriously, it’s a unity that transcends words. That unity can be seen by both people involved. That’s the kind of love we should all strive to find in our romantic lives! Not love as a trump word (as in, “nothing matters because I love him”), or an excuse for why you stay with someone who doesn’t seem to actually show you his/her love on a daily basis.
Even with platonic love, we can’t let that word overpower the necessity of actions that should accompany such a sentiment. I definitely need to work on this, and truly evaluate my heart towards the people I love, or say I love.
I hope this post serves as a reminder to make love and faith action words. Perhaps you need to dig down and really figure out if you do love someone or have faith, because if you did, would your behavior look different? If you know for certain that you love someone(s) and/or have faith, the issue could be in needing to actively try and reflect your principles when it isn’t easy or doesn’t come naturally. Either way, I’m sure every single one of us has room to grow!