When all is said and done, I realized that over the course of my journey, at least for the first twenty-five years, I was not really told to practice love. Most of my education has been in the previous three. And I realized this morning that much of my development was not a theology that leads to love. Much of it was information on a chalk board. It was who could be the smartest or knew the right answer. It was information to digest and argue and debate, but rarely to practice in context.
Then, he reflects on this education in the context of Jesus’ teaching that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others:
And it seems rather strange to me that God breaks it down to such a simple mandate. But what radically changed my journey was the practice of love. Was I really going to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and love? Was I going to really love the person next to me when I didnâ€™t feel like it? Was I going to forgive when it didnâ€™t feel good?
Once I began to practice love, I began to realize how ridiculously hard it is. It revealed my brokenness in ways that were entirely uncomfortable. It exposed me in ways that revealed how much I needed love in the first place. When I was talking about love, it was always referencing what I was supposed to do and that was easy. It was removed from context and experience. But when I practiced love, I couldnâ€™t deny my own failure at it.
We can talk about love, dissect love, parse love, explain love, and systematize love. But, when we actually pracitce love, we find out who we really are – we find out how desperate we need the love of God. Theology is not complete when we study the love of God. Instead, theology is complete when we demonstrate the love of God to others.