My attempt in Part 1 of this blog was to offer an alternative to the wanton violence both physically and mentally our society seems to glorify. I also wanted to put the previous two quotes in front of us so we might give them more than a passing thought:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…. The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation”. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength To Love, 1963
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix
So love is more than a noun, is in fact a verb, a word of action. I recognized from reading the particular writing again there are some actions which love is clearly not. We must see the two actions together and as one set of behaviors that have the potential to change not only our individual lives, but also the community where we live and the world of which we are a part. Hence part 2…
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Versions)
1) Love does not envy: When one lives in a capitalistic society it is hard not to be influenced by the expression, “the one who dies with the most toys wins.” We measure our success or failure by comparing ourselves to what others have or don’t have. Sometimes it will even get to the point of resenting others for having something we want but don’t have. Even worse for the person of faith, we sometimes reach a point of resenting God for what others have. Envy makes a statement of being more concerned about the well being of self rather than the well being of others.
2) Love does not boast: To boast is to lose perspective of one’s self. Bragging happens when we think we have accomplished something unique. Bragging often is about what we have accomplished on our own. After 25 years of ministry I can report we do not accomplish anything unique, as nothing is really new but rather simply tried or approached in a different way. Most, if not all of our accomplishments come about because of several experiences and complicated factors…even though a snowflake is unique, it takes hundreds of thousands to make a beautiful snowfall.
3) Love is not proud (some translations have the phrase “does not puff itself up”) Being too proud or puffing one’s self up occurs when one looks down upon the homeless, the poor, the uneducated, or people of a different culture, with the attitude of “thank God I am not them”. The whole political argument around “American exceptionalism” while hundreds of thousands of people die from starvation, lack of medical care, clean water or our military drones, indicates we may have become a little puffy!
4) Love does not dishonor others (some translations have the phrase “behave rudely”): Rude by definition of Merriam-Webster is, “offensively impolite or ill-mannered: “she had been rude to her boss”. This has the action of dishonoring the person to whom it is directed. Speaking truth can always be done without dishonoring or being ill mannered.
5) Love is not self-seeking (some translations have the phrase “seek its own advantage”) The action of love focuses on responsibilities rather than privileges. I wonder what happens to white privilege, sexism, homophobia to name just a few, if love is the operative word in one’s life.
6) Love it is not easily angered (some translations use the phrase “lose its temper”): Being angry about something or another is one thing, but being pushed there easily or to lose one’s temper (i.e. control) is to make other peoples’ lives miserable…think how damaging it has been to you when someone has just lost all control and started screaming…out of control anger is anything but love.
7) Love keeps no record of wrongs: In any conversation around love, the key is always about forgiveness. In order to not keep score one has to forgive and let go. I use to marvel at my mother-in-law who, during any disagreement, could bring up an endless list of things you had done wrong… a little forgetfulness might have ushered in some family peace at times.
8) Love does not delight in evil: Evil by any definition is that which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction. I think this is pretty self explanatory, don’t you? We need look no further than the sick and twisted logic of Eric Rudolph’s own words to give clarity to the definition. For those who don’t recognize the name, he was the one who set off bombs in Atlanta during the Olympics and also bombed medical clinics and a gay bar, killing one and injuring scores of others.
“Along with abortion, another assault upon the integrity of American society is the concerted effort to legitimize the practice of homosexuality. …But when the attempt is made to drag this practice out of the closet and into the public square in an “in your face” attempt to force society to accept and recognize this behavior as being just as legitimate and normal as the natural man/woman relationship, every effort should be made, including force if necessary, to halt this effort.
This effort is commonly known as the homosexual agenda. Whether it is gay marriage, homosexual adoption, hate crimes laws including gays, or the attempt to introduce a homosexual normalizing curriculum into our schools, all of these efforts should be ruthlessly opposed.”
So when we combine these two blogs it seems we have a viable alternative to the way things play out in today’s world. Yet the challenge remains with the whole concept of love. It is not that it is too difficult to understand; quite the opposite, it is too easy to know exactly what is being asked of us. The problem is being willing to do it.
Maybe this why the only command Jesus ever gave his followers was: “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another” John 13:34(The Message)
Isn’t about time to give love a chance?