heir actions spoke loud and clear that they were in love. They each wore a matching oversized sweatshirt that read “Engaged AF” in extra-bold letters. Without thinking, I naively said, “Oh, you’re engaged and in the Air Force! How cool is that?” From the response of hilarious laughter that came from the younger group around me, I knew, once again, I’d fallen headlong into the cultural communication gap. In this case, it was more like a chasm.

“AF” had nothing to do with “Air Force” but involved a four-letter word that also starts with “F.” I was embarrassed at my mistake but also appalled at the use of this particular word with such a beautiful occasion such as an engagement. This strange dichotomy put my mind on how many other words we take so much liberty and often use out of specific context. A perfect example of this is another four-letter word — “love.”

In my native English language, four-letter words are those we believe are profane or vulgar and are usually slang expressions or curse words. While “love” is in no way obscene, it does have four letters, and its usage is often stale and watered down. The word love has become so humdrum in our communication it has lost its significance. One might say it has a splattered meaning. We love our job, love our spouse, love our daughter, love our dog, love our home, love the dessert, and love our God. We use the same word to implicate our feelings toward both our dog and our God. Is it possible to honestly describe our relationship with our dessert and the Divine with the same word?

To answer that question, we must answer this one: What is the meaning of the word love? In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Paul gives us the best definition of love. He says, “Love is patient, Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

Essentially, love is uniquely defined by what it does, what it does not do, how hard it works, and finally, how long it lasts. With this in mind, perhaps the “other four-letter word” applies to my God as well as my dog.

How, or should I say, what is your LOVE doing? The only way to “have” this kind of love is to “live” it. Love is way beyond a feeling; it’s a doing. And, the only way to do it is to let God do it through you. If you haven’t figured it out by now, you’ll need some supernatural help to display a love like this.

L*** is a four-letter word. So say it emphatically! Love explicitly!

Mark Briggs

Lead Pastor at Riverpark Church

318.865.1110 | MARK@RIVERPARK.NET