Giving Love A Chance

A blog or 2 back I wrote and published a piece entitled “Forgive Me if I Don’t Raise a Toast”.

This was in response to all the over the top partying and Super Bowl like mentality of the killing of Bin-Laden.

My observation of the art of blog writing is one never knows where or what is in the mind
of someone who makes a comment. Some blogs get a lot of response and others get a
sum total of zero.

This particular blog got exactly one comment from a reader who read it at “The GA Voice”. The comment said; “You ask me to “forgive you”…. sorry, I refuse. He got much less than what he deserved. I wish they could kill him once for each life he took.”

While readers are certainly entitled to their opinion and when one allows for a blog such as mine to be published, it is expected that some strong opinions will be expressed.

However, this one stopped me in my tracks and has been playing on my mind all this time.

First of all I am not sure if this person thinks of himself or herself as a Christian or a
person of faith but if they are then the refusal of forgiveness for a different outlook on the
subject hits me as terribly sad. Especially since one of the main themes of Christianity is
forgiveness as well as most other major faiths.

I am also pretty sure if one does the body count of people who have been killed by the
United States in the hunt for Bin-Laden it most assuredly surpasses each life lost on that
awful day of 9-11.

The anger and absolute hate expressed in the comment is bone chilling. Am I surprised by the response? No. This is the world we live in, where an eye for an eye is the reality. Yet my point then and now is that it can and should be different. We cannot keep doing what we are doing and expect to survive much less live in peace and security.

Let me remind the reader of two quotes from the previous blog:

“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

I guess this where I am going to go from “preaching to meddling”.

If we are going to call ourselves Christian or at minimum an ethical and moral people, then we owe to ourselves, our friends and our families to consider that we need another
starting point.

Love is not something one just reads and feels. A rather well known Christian writer says,

“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)

Love then is something one does. The problem with this passage and the whole concept
of love 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.

If we were far more intentionally doing what this passage states it would revolutionize our
relationships in our homes, our churches or places of faith and in society as a whole.

Fifteen verbs reveal what makes this a tangible concept and not some pie in the sky
philosophy. We can see what love does and does not do. Hell, if we just become
intentional about the seven “do’s” the world would be a better, safer place.

1) Love is patient. How does this description translate into actions? Our church had a full-blown drunk showing up to service every week for three years. He was loud and rude. Offers of help were ignored. Yet the congregation continued to love him, hug him, feed him and let him know “it gets better”. The patience of the congregation paid off when 6 months ago Stanley had his last drink and he has said over and over again this
congregation saved his life.

2) Love is kind. There was once a person from my early ministry days who decided I was a heretic. They were very intentional in trying to get me fired from the church. They explained to me their actions were motivated by a love for me. Needless to say most of us hope we never had a “friend” like that. Love acts kindly; it does not work for the detriment of another. Acts of kindness come from recognizing a need of someone and
attempting to meet the need without strings attached.

3) Love rejoices with the truth. Ever notice that most arguments have little to do with veracity and more to do with winning? It has been said quite accurately there are three sides to every story: your side, my side and the truth. As a people of faith we owe it to ourselves to seek the action of that third side…the truth. It is not always easy to get at because it means we must really listen and respond rather than hear and re-act.

4) Love always protects (some translations say “bears all things”). No insult or betrayal should sidetrack love from the pursuit of its end. The prophet Hosea of the Old Testament pictures God as faithful to Israel but Israel turned to other loves. In the story God asks rhetorically if God should just let Assyria rule over Israel. Then God answers God’s own question: “How can I give up on Ephraim?” The heart of God for the person of
faith is where we learn to love and continue loving despite rejection, trouble and heartache. One has to wonder what might have happen to Stanley had love only been a concept and not an action.

5) Love always trusts. Love creates a climate of trust. There are people who are very suspicious because they have never had the opportunity to trust or be trusted. A climate of trust is put into place when people say what they mean and mean what they say. Some would say it is “walking the talk”.

6) Love always hopes. For the Christian the very fabric of the faith says separation from God, death and evil have no real or lasting power. It follows then we as a people know that separation from God, death and evil of an individual can be transformed by a life-altering encounter with God. For the Christian this translates to understanding in our soul who and what Jesus taught, lived and died for. For me personally the real power of what is called the “Gospel” is the good news of a second chance, a third chance or as Jesus once said seventy times seven. Therefore even in depravity there is hope.

7) Love always perseveres (in some translations the verb here is “endures”). The verb means to conquer. Jesus’ entire ministry was based on this concept. When the disciples didn’t get it, he didn’t give up he persevered. When the religious leaders didn’t get it, he didn’t give up he persevered. When he was denied, betrayed, arrested and sentenced to death he didn’t give up he persevered. The love he taught and lived carried all the through to his last breath from the cross.

So here is my challenge to the readers of the blog. Since the way of the world has not been terribly successful, since the whole eye for an eye thing has not been all that…let’s give love a try.

If that won’t work or seems to radical how about this: Rev. Richard J. Fairchild in a sermon he delivered a few years back had this advice, “In the wonderful little book called “Pocketful of Miracles”, which is a daily devotional and spiritual growth guide, the author (Joan Borysenko), writes:

Shakespeare said, “Pretend a virtue if you have it not”. Most of us are still locked up in the petty, self-centered concerns of our egos. Nonetheless we feel the ancient longing of our soul to move beyond ego to union with the divine. It doesn’t matter if our motivation for Divine Union falters, or if selfish concerns predominate. If we just pretend the virtue of longing for God and being of service to others, eventually those virtues will arise spontaneously.”

Rev. Paul M. Turner

About Rev. Paul M. Turner

Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Rev. Paul M. Turner grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994. He is the editor of the Seeds of Hope blog whose posts from 1999-2005 are at http://whosoever.org/seeds/ -- and which now resides at http://gentlespirit.org/topics/blog/seeds-of-hope/.

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