We all should say ‘I love you’ more

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 7, 2013

In the Episcopal diocese where I previously served, I knew a wonderful woman named Duchess who was a faithful volunteer with young people there.

Duchess rarely ended a conversation or concluded an email message to any of those young people (or to anyone else for that matter) without saying, ‘Jesus loves you, and so do I.” She expressed her love for others freely and lived her life in a way that enacted that love.

I thought of Duchess earlier this week when I read a brief piece titled, “10 Things Christians Should Say More Often.” One of the 10 phrases that the author suggested Christians say more often was, “I love you.”

If we are honest, I think most of us Christians find it much easier to tell people, “God loves you” or “Jesus loves you,” than it is to tell them, “I love you.” Making it personal involves taking a risk. It may make us feel awkward or uncom-fortable. It may make us feel more committed to help someone or to get involved in their lives more intensely than we really want.

But I think my friend Duchess knew that telling someone that Jesus loves them without making it personal, without telling them that we love them, comes off as too abstract and perhaps even a little artificial.

We may say “God loves you” with the best of intentions, but perhaps it is time to make loving others a central part of our own lives, to stop speaking in the third person, and to begin speaking love in the first person. If we are God’s hands and feet, heart and eyes in the world, then how can others know God loves them if they don’t know that we love them?

In words from the First Letter of John,

“Beloved, since God loved us so much, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is perfected in us.”