Tag Archives: Active

The Activating Ingredient

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthian 13:1 (NIV)

As I’ve mentioned in recent months, I’m making my way chronologically through all of Paul’s letters. This is in conjunction with a year-long study my local gathering of Jesus’ followers is conducting of the book of Acts.

One of the patterns that is repeated over and over again in the book of Acts is an action or event that is followed by an opportunity to teach, testify or pray. The action always precedes the teaching or testimony. “Do” then “Teach.”

I thought about this as I read Paul’s famous discourse on love. He begins by acknowledging that religious actions void of love are empty, impotent, and useless. Love is the action. Love is the activating ingredient. Love is the “Do” that opens the way for meaningful conversation, interaction, and Life-giving moments.

In the quiet this morning I’m looking back over my entire spiritual journey. As I put on my 20-20 hindsight goggles, I confess that I’ve gotten a lot of things wrong. Oh my, have I missed some things. Simple things. Basic things. Things I should have seen long ago.

I was taught, and embraced the notion, that moral and doctrinal purity were “the most excellent way.” I and my Protestant tribes have been so worried about avoiding a doctrinally errant “gospel of works” (i.e. you earn your salvation by doing good deeds) that I believe I elevated the importance of belief and right-thinking. In so doing I diminished the activating ingredient: Love. And, without the activating ingredient, my faith is….

I’m reminded of James’ letter to believers (a letter Martin Luther hated and wanted struck from the canon of scripture). James is echoing the same sentiment as Paul. He just says it in a different way. If I say I have faith and I believe all the right doctrines, but I don’t have the activating agent of love motivating me to “Do” unto others, love my enemies, forgive those who’ve sinned against me, welcome the outcast, take up my cross, go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, give my coat as well, and et cetera, then my faith is void of Life. And, that which is void of Life is dead. I and my right doctrine are dead on arrival.

Lord, have mercy on me. I’ve still got so much to learn, and “Do.”

Chapter-a-Day 2 Peter 3

Grape vines and their canopies

Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18 (NLT)

When I was young I had a mentor and teacher who would ask me all the time, “So, what is God doing in your life?” The lesson behind the question was clear: God should be an active force and presence in your life. If God isn’t doing something in you, then we have a problem we first need to address. Last night I was with a friend and he asked me in so many different words what God was doing in my life. I smiled inside as I answered the question, remembering my mentor.

Old vines bear the best fruit and make the best wine. The faith journey of a Jesus follower is a path of personal, spiritual growth and formation. It does not end in this  earthly life. We should be ever growing, ever learning, continually being honed, shaped and molded into the image of the one we follow. We should bear fruit in increasing measure. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is for those who ask and seek and knock. It is both a journey and a quest.

I enjoyed sharing with my friend last night what God was doing in my life right now, at this stage of my journey. I’m excited about it, and I’m grateful for a spouse and friends and family who care enough to ask and to listen.

So, what’s God doing in your life? Maybe the fact that you’re even reading this post is part of it. If you don’t have anyone to share it with, then share it with me. I’d love to hear.