Love God and Love One Another
It’s not about me! In this age of flux and uncertainty, we need to speak truth to power. And usually that power is not an individual but rather systems or institutions that have become a gated community which set themselves apart by keeping most of the world outside established and rigid boundaries. The people belonging to these institutions (inside the gates) are told that they are the “in” group while everyone else is the “out” or wrong group. You don’t have to go very far to see this play out in our families, in our communities, and in our world.
Jesus’ main message in the gospels is one of a bigger, more inclusive point of view. God’s point of view! It is a message of oneness and inclusion. We are all the same, yet different! What does that mean? Think of your own family, or job, or the groups you belong to. The sameness comes from sharing the same core values, and the differences come in the way we each have specific ways in which we process and interact in the world. Each person has unique talents, tendencies and DNA, but in order to belong to the group, individuals must all share the group’s core values. For us here at Grace Church our core values can be summed up in the first sentence of our mission statement: Grace is God’s gift of unconditional love made known to us in Jesus Christ.
Jesus told us that the entirety of God’s word, God’s laws, and the prophets’ teachings can be summed up in one statement: “Love God and Love one another.” So this is the Christian core value and all things should point to this understanding. Now our differences are vast, and the Apostle Paul describes these differences in the metaphor of our body parts. All have different functions but share the same body. He was directing the churches of his day to keep to Jesus’ core values and everything else would fall into place. We then become the Body of Christ revealing God’s values in a broken world and reconciling us to God’s unconditional love.
The Body of Christ is a metaphor for the rich diverseness of all creation, including us humans. Taken together, we are all collectively a reflection of our creator. We are all interdependent, and we all share different unique gifts and talents which cause us to work together towards a common goal. When that common goal is an earthly institution, system, or ruler we will always come up short. But when that common goal is loving God and loving one another, we will always succeed; we then align with our creator and creation.
But life isn’t easy, and folks want all the answers. Life is a beautiful, sad, awesome, painful, joyful mystery! Emma Higgs writes: “Following Jesus was never supposed to be about having a static set of beliefs. To have faith in Jesus is to embrace a new way of being in the world; a way of upside-down priorities, countercultural inclusion, radical forgiveness and ultimate sacrifice. And the best word we have to that is love.” The reason everything seems upside down is that we made everything about us at the expense of those outside our way of thinking, including nature itself. Life (and God) is a wondrous mystery, and when we gain the wisdom to realize this world is not about us, then we will find that all the answers we seek will, in fact, begin with unconditional love.
In today’s upside down world, we must be as one crying out in the wilderness. Love God and Love one another! Our world has become, in many ways, a spiritual desert, and our voices compete with all the noise and voices crying out to so many other gods corporations, governments, money, drugs, technology etc, etc. And no, these things are not evil, but our worshipping them at the expense of everything and everyone else is.
These are exciting times, my friends. Change is never easy; but we have an opportunity at this time and place to help reconcile the world. So when the voices of the world get too loud, the best way to show the world a better way is simply by living a life focused on God and one another…with love.
Your faithful servant,