what is love?

unfortunately i can't ask that question -- "What is love?" -- without dropping an 80s club beat box & singing that really annoying Haddaway song from back in the day... "What is love? baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more." (& then i think about Will Ferrell & that SNL skit they always did with this song...)
hopefully that won't be stuck in your head the rest of the day like it will be mine.

1st John is a pretty sweet book that actually answers the question. it was the first book i ever translated from Greek to English in my first Greek exegesis class in college. it was a beast of a project, but really rewarding because 1st John is so rich and amazing.

Recently i was reading 1 John 3 (in English of course... i can't remember very much Greek these days) and i remembered how many STRONG and BOLD statements John makes.

try this one on for size:

"If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you?"
- 1 John 3:17

wow. that's pretty intense.

how can the love of God possibly be in you if you don't LIVE your love out for others?
literally - if you see a fellow human in NEED and that doesn't MOVE you to do something about it... how can you possibly say the love of God is in you?
it's a rhetorical Q with the obvious answer being "the love of God is NOT in you." 
we probably better check ourselves.

and we can assume pity doesn't just mean "feel sorry for them in your heart."
if you look at John's rhetorical Q in the whole context it's obvious. Check it:

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us NOT love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
  - 1 John 3:16-18

YES! don't "love" with your cheap words... because that's not love! LOVE WITH YOUR ACTIONS! which is the only true way to love.

this is a way of life, not just something we talk about or mentally assent to.

and it seems to me like John is laying the foundation by saying = "HERE is our example of love --> JESUS died for us. so, if we really love people we will give up our lives for them!" 
maybe not literally, but in every way. we will put their lives ahead of our own.
THAT is what love is.

that doesn't sound too familiar to me. i don't see many Christians doing this.

but i do see a lot of people "loving" with their words.

i say, save your breath. because you're just wasting it.

and i think John is saying the same.