An American writer once said that history — or at least all human history — is a record of the encounter between character and circumstance. I think that’s true. Life is the crucible where we discover what we really believe … as opposed to what we say we believe. And the result is our story, our history. The Acts of the Apostles is our earliest history as a believing people. It’s a record of the encounter between the character of men and women on fire with God, and the circumstances of an unbelieving world. It’s a story of action. In fact, that’s the only reason we have any story to tell. The Apostles acted on the life of Jesus Christ. They witnessed and taught His Gospel … and they traveled all over the Mediterranean world to do it.
The point is, Christian love is an active verb. The believer is attentive to God, receptive to God — but never passive. One of the great sources of confusion in the world today, and even in the Church, is the way we so easily diminish love by mistaking it for a warm set of feelings. Those feelings are wonderful when they occur … but they’re also unreliable. They can even be misleading.
Real love is not something we consume like an entertainment or a drug. It’s something we co-create with God. It involves the will. It involves choosing to do a right action — a selfless action — and then actually doing it. That’s what changes human hearts. In the long run, people remember what we do, a lot more clearly than anything we say. The Apostles preached first with their lives, then with their words. People listened because they saw. In exactly the same way, if we live well and love well because of the Gospel…only then will people begin to listen to what we say about the Gospel.