“M ommy, what does love look like?”
The question came from a little girl of perhaps five years of age and was asked as seriously as any adult might have asked it. Had you been the mother, how would you have answered her question?
Augustine, one of the early church fathers who lived during the fourth century, once described and defined love. He said four things about it, painting a picture not easily forgotten.
First of all, Augustine says love has eyes to see. There is an old adage that says love is blind. Perhaps it is in a way, but that is only a part of the truth. At the height of the Great Depression a neighbor of ours said to my mother, “I don’t think times are so hard.” Even as she spoke, in the tenement next door there were men and women out of work, families out of food and no milk for the babies. There was dire need all around. She just couldn’t see. Then love opened her eyes.
Second, love has ears to hear. Isn’t it strange? A mother, keeping watch beside the crib of her six-month-old baby who is ill, toward daybreak, drifts off into a light sleep. The clock in the hall strikes six; she sleeps on. The daily paper, thrown by the paperboy, lands on the porch with a loud thud; she is oblivious to the sound. A sixteen-wheeler lumbers by; totally unnoticed. Then her little one stirs ever so lightly and she is suddenly wide awake. Love listens and hears.
Third, love has feet to hasten. God is love and he sent his son into the world that we might know what that love is like. The Bible has a lot to say about Jesus, but I think these words of Peter describe him best: “He went about doing good.” Love has feet, and they hurry to bring aid wherever it is needed.
Finally, love has hands to help. Recently I watched and listened as a little girl, her eyes filled with love, looked up at her mother and asked, “May I help set the table?” One of our poets has written, Love ever gives Forgives, outlives. And while it lives It gives. For this is love’s prerogative, To give, and give, and give.
Luke began the book of Acts using this phrase, “all that Jesus began to do and teach.” Jesus was a superb teacher. The people who heard him were deeply impressed and remembered his words. But what they remembered most was what he did. Above all, love is something you do.
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.