In 2003, on their 3rd album, the Black Eyed Peas released "Where is the Love?" Nine years later, I can listen to this song and it still speaks to the condition of the world. This October I will have lived 40 years and I find myself asking more and more, "What happened to Love?" In 2012 there are still terrorist bombing people because of their nationality and you have leaders of countries killing some of their own people. In our own country not only are we divided politically but churches and denominations are divided, and while we may not be killing each other the words I hear come from church leaders and their members makes me cringe.
When I hear about so much hate in our world and what is coming out of the church, I think where is the church? Seriously, where is it? In all my readings of the Gospel I have never found Jesus supporting, condoning or even commanding us to hate and to judge and yet that is what is happening in my own country. Judgment is nothing new, one of the times that the religious leaders challenged Jesus was when they caught the woman committing adultery. As was custom, the law said that a woman could be stoned for committing adultery. Jesus talked about the law and how the Jews were not living according to the law, but in this moment he very clearly does something contrary to the law. He challenges the people who are prepared to stone the woman with their own sin and then he goes one step further and says, "Who here condemns you?" The woman replies, "No one, " and he says, "then neither do I." Here Jesus shows us a different way or law to live by, a law that says forgive. We also here in the Gospel about loving our neighbor as our selves. When I witness someone being hurtful or mean to someone I immediately ask , myself, "Do they really not love themselves?" I ask this question because if you dissect part of the "Great Commandment" you get two parts, "Love your neighbor," and "As your self" The intuitive in me draws the conclusion that someone must not love themselves very much if they have a hard time loving others. Think about it for a moment, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. I can't know the mind of Christ completely but I don't think it is in God's plan that we should hate ourselves. If the creator of the universe loves us so much that he sends his son to die for us, then why would we not love ourselves too?
In addition to the commandment, "Love your neighbor," Jesus commands his disciples (and us) in John, chapter 15: 14 - 17.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 "I do not call you servants anymore. Servants do not know their master's business. Instead, I have called you friends. I have told you everything I learned from my Father. 16 "You did not choose me. Instead, I chose you. I appointed you to go and bear fruit. It is fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. 17 "Here is my command. Love each other."
The command to love each other is tied to friendship, more specifically our friendship with Jesus. Could our problem with hate and judgement be eradicated by being a friend to everyone and strengthen our own friendship with the one who saved us? According to the passage in John, the answer is 'yes'.
In 39 years I have seen what can happen in the absence of love and what is possible when love is present.
A single mother finds that her only solution in life is to leave this world and a dramatic way because of the love she NEVER received from her own family, because she chose to follow Jesus into the ministry.
A teenager goes from a place of anger from the abuse they endured at the hands of a family member to a place of forgiveness and event lifts the abuser up to God in prayer, in hopes that they might repent and change their ways. That is what love can do.
I pray everyday that more and more people will choose to love. That the church will rise up to be what it has been called to be, a body of people that loves all and a place that people can find the love that is missing in their life.
Let us love.