What happened to love?
Is Love (and from here on out I mean God's kind of unconditional love) become some kind of theological unicorn that only exists in provocative sermons? Has Love become a religious notion and quick answer only to be given because we simply cannot wrap our arms around any better solution that would seem more tangible and practical? Has Love become so muddled within Christianity because we cannot get along that the world is screened from its brilliance? Or from another angle, has our world bowed so heavily to the god of media that we refuse to tell the stories that encompass Love because watching people of violence and meanness feeds our carnal self and all its desires?
Wow, what a load in these questions. Sorry I don’t have the answers. I can be rather honest though. Love as spoke about as God is real. I don’t care if you love unicorns and want to be one, one day they aren’t real. Love is! Even if it only existed once, it still existed and therefore can perpetuate. Unlike the Greek mythical gods that held powers that humans could never posses, God gives us access to his gifts and power through the Holy Spirit (that’s a churchy sentence that needs to be unpacked some at a later time). Love exists as God because God chose to send Jesus or Immanuel and through an act of unconditional, self-less Love he was sacrificed as one for the many. We not only have the greatest example of Love, but we have also become recipients of Love. And whether you believe it or not it still exists; it is still true.
Love is sometimes really intangible. And when I preach Love as a solution or God’s desired action for us it feels empty. It feels this way, not because Love is empty or shallow, but because I, as a human, feel so distant from really engaging in this kind of true love. I have actually had the criticism that I have preached too much love and not enough about sin and its destruction. Really?! What happened to love?
It pains me to see the stories of law enforcement and civilians’ inability to coexist peacefully. I’m not choosing a side. And that isn’t the point of what I want to say. My point is that the chances that all those involved (law enforcement and civilians) in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York, and McKinney are atheist is slim to none. Those behaving badly, making terrible choices, rioting, over-exercising authority and power, vandalizing, fighting, shooting, killing, protecting, and calling for peace are most-likely those who believe in God, profess Jesus as savior, and are linked to all other believers through the Holy Spirit. There are Christians on every side (because there are more sides than just two) of these situations and issues. This is why I have felt almost constant spiritual pain in the last months as racial tensions have risen, social media outbursts fill my feed, and diversity of principles and thought has become cause for bashing, judgment, slander, and self-righteous ranting. We are Christians who are divided on politics, principles, values, theology, worship practices, ideas of heaven/hell, and even whether or not God is one or one in three. Many of our forefathers saw the diversity in us as a chance to be a more well rounded body of Christ when we all come together. Now we it seems we have followed the ways of the world and keep trying to Photoshop out the parts we don’t want on the cover. Do you know what holds Christians from all different backgrounds, lifestyles, and theological persuasions together? LOVE! What happened to love?
Media has become a quick target for many. I recently watched a special on the Oprah channel (don’t judge me). She was interviewing Tom Brokaw for the show Oprah’s Master Class and during the interview he talked about how journalism and media has changed. When he first started on TV it was about being the first one to get the story out. Now with technology and self-journalism carried around in everyone’s pocket the objective with at least TV journalism today is not necessarily to be the first, but to tell the most compelling story. And here we are. We want desperately to hear a good story and the stories that we will listen to are defining what a good story may sound like. If you look at the statistics in 2014 70% of Americans describe themselves as Christian. There is 22% almost 23% who seem themselves as unaffiliated with any religion, but only 3% is atheist. (from pew research click here for article I used) So who is listening and shaping the stories. I have a difficult time believing that the 3% atheist are wagging the dog of media so we all hear media driven away from Love (which is also an awful assumption that just because someone is atheist that they aren’t after Love). Christians are still by far the majority, so before we go blaming media for the stories we hear we should pay close attention to those 3 fingers pointing back and that speck in our own eye. If we continue to be amused and entertained by stories of hate, evil, violence, and disturbing content, then that is what will continue to be produced. It may be pie in the sky but if we cry out for stories of Love then the tide will begin to turn. What happened to love?
As I close I give this challenge. Quit blaming everything and everyone else for what is going on in our world. While, Satan is active, he has no dominion over God’s people unless we allow it. Violence and racism could cease if overrun by Love. As Christians we need to take responsibility for the world, country, state, town, community in which we live. Not so we can force-feed Jesus down the throats of anyone that we see as a threat to God and His kingdom (as if that is even possible), but so we can become LOVE. And remember when we become Love to others, we become a vessel of God to them.