Thursday, January 30, 2014

Love One Another

There are some days in ministry when everything is light and joy.  Baptisms, engaging scripture, sharing the Lord's Supper, all suffused with the presence and grace of God.  There are some days in ministry when everything is painful and disheartening.  Conflict, misunderstanding, ultimatums, all heavy wtih the reality of human brokenness.

Unfortunately, the difficult days hook into your soul with vicious strength, making it hard to remember the joys.  With the piercing pain of these trying days come the companions of fear, self-doubt, anger and anxiety.  They pour in to me, a dark cocktail of emotion that leaves bitterness in it's wake.

On the difficult days of work, I am thankful for the former difficult days in my personal life.  Because in the darkness of the hard days, I remember the Spirit holding me close and whispering a question to me:

"What does Love look like?"

Is love the closed fist, the furitive glance, the secret communications, the selfishness, the self-centeredness?  Is love the need to win, the cruel word, the dismissive negligence, the act of exclusion?  On days such as this, when cloudy skies mirror the turmoil deep within me, I hear the Spirit whispering in the wind:

"What does Love look like?"

When the Spirit murmurs this to me, I realize that question is not just meant to apply to the people around me, but also to myself.  The writer of the Epistles of John spoke a lot about love, and stridently focused on it as a defining aspect of the Christian Faith.  "God is Love," the apostle wrote.  Ancient church tradition says that when John was very old and frail, he would be carried into the small gatherings of the faithful and all that he had the strength to say was "Little Children, Love One Another."  

If I truly believe this, that God is love, and that I am called to be a representative of that Love to not only the world but also my congregation, how should I respond?  If Love is more than acts kindness or sweetness, but is instead rooted in God, what is expected of me?

Grace.  And patience.  And dogged commitment to a gospel of reconciliation, transformation and forgiveness.

So when the days are hard, are dark, are painful, I remember what Love looks like.  And I try my damndest to speak like that, to act like that, to pray like that, to preach like that, to teach like that, to live like that.  Even when it would be so much easier to do otherwise.

Friends, what do you think Love looks like?

1 comment:

Paul Rimmer said...

Love means never giving up.