On Act & Word

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” – Genesis 1:3

It is the perfect culmination of word and act or act and word…there is no sense of where one ends and the other begins and this is how it should be.

As a writer (hack) the concept of word and act and the interplay between them is intriguing to me. I am jealous of one whose word is, in and of itself, an act. This is what I (and I suspect other writers) secretly strive for…that my words act in the world and the lives of the people reading them.

Imagine – words alone transforming darkness to light (LUMOS!)…it has been a human dream forever as is evidenced in so many stories throughout our history…and yet it eludes us.

For reasons I cannot understand we are creatures of dichotomy; creatures of extremes. We are black or white; we are rich or poor; we are liberal or conservative…etc. We struggle with a reality that is far more subtle and blended than we would like because, as I have said before, operating in such a world requires the mental athleticism of a tightrope walker maintaining precarious balance over a chasm of extremes. We must be constantly making minute adjustments according to our place on the rope and the context around us to avoid falling to the extreme left or right of any circumstance.

But such a life is exhausting and to fall into an extreme or a box (another form of extreme really) is easier. Once you decide on an extreme/box, thinking can stop and you can simply look up the required response for any given circumstance i.e. “I have put myself in the Evangelical Christian Box therefore I believe (FILL IN THE BLANK)” or “I have put myself in the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Box therefore I must respond to this circumstance with (FILL IN THE BLANK)” or dare I say “I have put myself in the LGBT Box therefore I must respond to this circumstance with (FILL IN THE BLANK)”. In this and so many other ways we cease to be human and become poor and corrupt mimeographs of an idea or list. Unchanging. Dead.

Put another consider this tidbit from Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard – “Once you label me you negate me.”

With word and act we are similar. We often create word after word after word after word without any form of act or we will often act and act and act without any word when in reality the two must be together.

Let me put it this way – we must be able to explain why we act the way we act. 1 Peter 3:15 understands this – “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

Why? If we act loving why must we also be able to explain it…isn’t the act enough?

Our words within us define/refine our actions and our actions too come to define/refine our inner words (Word?). They have the same effect on others as well who will come to understand the quality and character of our loving actions by the foundational words behind them.

How about word without act?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1

Words, of love in this instance, are nothing without the act. I cannot put it any more succinctly than this.

Act without word is incomplete and ultimately ineffective. Word without act is incomplete and ultimately ineffective…the two are part of one great, transforming whole. This is what it means to be like Christ who was both Word and Act.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

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