“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love” (1 John 3:18).

I have been sharing this verse with churches and donors as I’ve traveled around the Midwest over the last several weeks. It is a verse that I think is critical for Christians during these very chaotic times, both here in the United States, as well as overseas. The reason I think it is so very important is that most of us have become really good at sharing our opinions about topics that are important to us and have somehow forgotten to act on those very opinions.

I hear words of anger, hate, criticism and fear thrown about so often that it has almost become the normal vernacular of our times. We easily give over these words without the slightest encouragement from another, as if it’s not only our right, but our duty to share. And then, some of us even do all of this in the name of “love.”

Hmmm. Well, I’m not sure I understand that kind of love — the kind that thinks it is necessary to hurt another human being with their words or lash out at our “neighbors” simply because they look, speak, dress or worship different than others who do those same things. But I hear people say this in my travels and they rationalize that they are using hurtful words in the name of “love.”

The love that I know, the love of Jesus, tells me that I am to love God and love my neighbor. It tells me that I am to bind wounds, visit those in prison, give a cup of cold water, share my meal, take care of widows and orphans, “see” those that others walk by. This is the love that I know.

It is not only a love of words but a love of action. It is not simply words that I repeat because I’ve memorized these things in Sunday School and so I know I’m supposed to say them…you know, Jesus is the ALWAYS the right answer! It is a love that I take to heart and that changes my life, is reflected through me and out of me so that the world sees something different. Different from the hate and indifference and blindness that permeates our world today.