There is division all around us. It’s almost everywhere. You can find it in politics, friendships, and churches, affecting almost every area of life. Families are torn apart over smaller doctrinal issues. Whole groups of people are at odds because they have different opinions and instead of respectfully disagreeing ,words loaded with hate and anger are thrown from both directions. Our country is split in half, blue and red, left and right, democrat and republican. I am left feeling deflated and exhausted because how oh how do I learn to love in a world so rife with hate? How do I unify or be unified when noone can seem to agree, or at the very least just agree to disagree but still love. How do I be a peacemaker when peace just seems so far away? How do I share my opinion without being aggressive, and without pushing people away? How do I (we) engage culture without engaging the culture wars that stir around us like a hurricane?
Those are the many questions currently flying around my mind after the whole World Vision debacle. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you can find the articles here and here. But all I can see in that situation is that everyone is losing. I can’t help but think, where is the love? Where is the grace? As the war wages on, the casualties steadily increase and I am beginning to wonder where are the people (gay or straight, black or white, charismatic or traditional) who take Jesus seriously. Matthew 22:37-40 says, “And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.” He didn’t say, “Only love your neighbor if he believes exactly like you believe, and does only the things you want.” He told us all to love our neighbors as ourselves, unconditionally. Now friends, I’m well aware that I’m oversimplifying, and that as you read this you’re probably coming up with exceptions to this commandment. But what if we truly, genuinely, without condition loved our neighbor as we love ourselves. How would that change people? How would that change our world? But perhaps, most importantly how would that change, me (you)? Change begins at home, it begins with you and me.
Last night I had a mini breakdown with my husband, because my heart was so heavy. Not just about the hate I saw being spewed from both sides over WV, but because I look around and I see so much division and anger and hate coming from so many places in this world and my heart is breaking into a hundred tiny pieces. I just want to scream “CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG”. I’m know that’s a simplistic thought, and I’m not saying that we all have to agree with one another, but does that mean we can’t get along? Does that mean we have to call each other names, and play the blame game? Do we have to publicly blast people on social media? As I tried to explain to that dear husband o’ mine the feelings I was experiencing, I started to get choked up, because guys I really love God, and He really loves people, and thus so do I. All people, no strings attached. And when I see and hear all the hate, I hear the father whisper, “love dear ones, love.” That means love for your gay neighbor, love for your evangelical neighbor, love for your black neighbor, love for your white neighbor. It means love for your sons and daughters who just won’t listen to you. Love for your parents who are driving you cuckoo for cuckoo puffs. Love for your husband who forgot to put his dirty clothes in the laundry, and love for your wife who had another emotional breakdown because people just refuse to get along (that one’s for you Steve).
But as I continued to break down I went to sit with Steve and he reminded me that we have to be the change that we want to see. So I have to be the one who loves in a revolutionary way, and hope that a domino effect happens, and that together we will all love a little better, and that together we can change the world.So if you see what I’m saying, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down, and if you’re tracking with me (and I hope you are) than lets be the change we want to see.
Recently protesters picketed a Switchfoot concert. Jon Foreman had two options for how he could react, either with hate or love. He decided to choose the latter. He announced the protesting from the stage, encouraging everyone to love them, and to welcome them. Then, he went outside to the protesters with bottled water for them and attempted to start a dialogue. You might read that and ask why he would even bother trying to dialogue with people that would protest a Christian rock show, but Jon believes that we all have commonalities, and that we have to look for the things we have in common instead of the things that make us different. So maybe that’s just step one. Maybe, when we disagree with someone we have to do whats harder, and try to find the one thing we have in common, even if it’s just having the same favorite color.
It’s easier to spread hate, but the effects of love are better and last longer. Remember the words of 1 Corinthians 13:13, “But now faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”