Tuesday, April 30, 2019

When I Talk About Love I'm Not Trying to be Relevant or Clever...

I'm known for preaching, writing, and posting about love. Some have called me "Bishop Love" or "The Dean of Love"... I guess I could be called much worse, so I'll happily accept the labels. But I want to be specific as to why I'm so committed to this topic...please allow me 10 minutes of your time ~

The best place to start would be with this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Please take some pains to read this carefully;

“I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say:”We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, but we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.”

The complexity AND simplicity of Love is found in the sheer impossibility of it. That's inherent to King's quote here because this statement requires us to remember that he actually survived his own home being terroristically attacked. We must recall that black churches were routinely fire-bombed and Sunday School children were killed...in my life time...in the USA. King's creed and response? LOVE. More than simply being "relevant" or "clever"... he put his one life on the line for LOVE. I'm convinced that 21st Century Christianity is at a similar intersection today. 

The political bitterness of our time is a potential set-up for a raw discovery of the practice of Divine Love. Dealing with every hot-topic of our day from a Christian perspective must find a way to default to this "One Command" of Jesus Christ. I am convinced that we will either spend our energies on other methods or we will spend and be spent in a healthy and joyous practice of Love. 

M. Scott Peck, author of the classic book, "Road Less Traveled" said, "Real love is a permanently enlarging experience." Some of us get stuck in small definitions of love and fail to see a wide world dying for a mature and vital love... 

When I was 5 I loved my original dog, “Tiny”....but when I was 12, she got sick and had to be euthanized. I accused my parents of not “loving her” like I did because they made that decision. Well, I was right. They grew, but I was still a 5 year old kid in a 12 year old body loving a dog without an adult mind.

Mature Love is the most difficult, mind challenging choice we can make in a world of complexities and vast choices. But it is the choice Jesus said we'd have to make if we were to be known as His true disciples.   The path I've found through this narrow way (sound familiar?) is the path of LOVING ONE PERSON SITTING IN FRONT OF ME. If that sounds cliched, let me challenge you...

If I get publicly loud about political ideals and indignant about groups of people seeking to corrupt my world I might ultimately find ONE person, sitting in front of me, from one of those groups...seeking and perhaps even desperate for...Love. I can not afford to fight broad political groups when I am committed to LOVE ONE PERSON...sitting in front of me. 

Looking in the eyes of that ONE person, my broad generalized political statements will pale. That ONE person, whose singular "finger-printed" life story, will not fit my pat simplistic answers edited to fit on a political party platform. Like Dr. King, my passions had better be shaped by my real life, first hand experiences, or I risk making Jesus my poster boy for a current news cycle rant. 

I'm not suggesting we should be dispassionate about worthy causes...I'm simply shouting that we should remember that "ONE PERSON" who is disparate for love but might be afraid of us due to our loud political protests. 

Yes...that's a tough gig. Love is ALWAYS the hardest choice to make in the midst of our simplistic news cycle driven culture. 


“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” ~Erich Fromm