James Finley writes, “The stirring of leaves in the wind makes the wind visible. Their stirring is the wind’s stirring, their whisper is the wind’s whisper. And so with love.” The image is worth slowing down to consider - to reflect. We can’t see the wind, yet we know it is there. We can’t see love, yet we know it is present.
How do people know God’s love? How do people feel it and experience it? Answer: hopefully, through you. If you believe in Jesus Christ, if you put God’s love in Jesus Christ into action, you become visible love.
Now I know that in my preaching and teaching there are some who experience frustration. They come to me – sometimes write to me – and tell me that I need to make things simple. “Words like eschatology, soteriology, and modality confuse us. Speak in words we can understand,” they say. Okay, here is simplicity: love. Do you understand that word? I hope you so, because if you do, it means that someone, somewhere has made it visible to you - perhaps a parent, a sibling, a friend, or even a stranger – someone. None of us could ever grasp love without its demonstration, but if God gives us grace, it can be seen in God’s people around us.
I said God’s people, because without God’s people, without God’s leaves, the love of God cannot be adequately seen. After all, we as human beings lost love (God’s pure love) within ourselves when we fell in the Garden a long time ago. To be sure, a type of love remained, but it was a fettered love – a love with conditions – a love that ultimately served self.
Do you know what happens with fettered love? It leaves us confused. It makes us doubt whether we’ve been loved at all. So if a person is lost and confused, how does he or she see God’s pure love? Through those who know God’s unfettered love, and not only know it, but put it into action.
Do we see the leaves? Is God’s pure, unfettered love being demonstrated before us?