Love is What Love Does

Love is What Love Does
Love is What Love Does

The Tom Hanks character Forrest Gump always said, “Stupid is as stupid does” in response to people asking him if he in fact was stupid “or something.” The statement actually came from a Charles Dickens book “David Copperfield”. In it, a character was describing another by using a similar statement, “Handsome is as handsome does”, meaning you are only as handsome as your actions. Is it safe to say the same about love? Love is as love does. Do you only love someone as much as your actions show? Is that not how many people in the black communities in South Mississippi feel about the church?

Tom Hanks as the lead character in the self titled film “Forrest Gump” – 1994
It is vitally important for the black church to understand the need for “community development” in South Mississippi. Community Development is defined by as “a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.” These problems more often than not are social, political, and most of all financial. In order for churches to strengthen their relationships with the black community they need to first show their presence in that community, second earn trust in that community, third show their love in that community, and then they can tell that community about the love of God.

How is the Church going to show the black communities of South Mississippi that they are still here for them? As mentioned above, the church must show a physical presence in the local community. Educator and author Angela Maiers says, “The ultimate present you can give another is your PRESENCE.” She goes on to say that, you must honor another person’s time and attention. It is not enough to just, come around; church members must be good listeners in order to address community needs.

Next, the church must earn the trust of the community. Many people often label Christians as hypocrites for hiding their shortcomings. In doing so, people feel judged and looked down upon by Christians. Chad Egeland, a social media strategist and founder of Social 360, says, “Everyone makes mistakes, it’s part of what makes us human. It’s how we deal with those mistakes though that tells others a lot about who we are and what we stand for.” He explains Christians must learn to demonstrate transparency and openness. By doing so Christians display their trust in God and earn the community’s trust in them.

Finally, black churches of South Mississippi need to show God’s love before they talk about God’s love. Talking to someone about the ‘Love of God,’ without demonstrating the same love to him or her, presents a clashing dichotomy. Do you remember to tell people in the community ‘thank you’? When is the last time you celebrated the success of someone in the community? Multi-Grammy, Dove, and Stellar winning Gospel Artist Fred Hammond says in one of his songs,

“Not just what you say {It’s mostly what you do}

Not a game that you play {To keep the winning hand with you}

Not just wasting time {With empty words that don’t mean much}

Not just how you feel {When others need your tender touch}

So can you take out some time {To help somebody else in need}

And when this is done {The love of God is truly seen}

Then above all {We need to cover and forgive}

Then we can act like we know what love is.”

Show up, earn their trust by showing them that you are not perfect, and finally show them God’s love before you tell them about God’s love. Community Development is vitally important to the black church. It is what the black community expected the black church to lead since reconstruction. Subscribe to “Suburban Missions” now and learn how you can contribute to your church’s efforts to empower black communities in South Mississippi.