I love her, you see?
And she loves me.
And we're better together. But that doesn't mean we're perfect.
Love holds us together. And in those (very few) moments when we don't see eye-to-eye, when there is friction, when there is stress...we both know that we will get through it, that we'll be okay.
Because we love each other. And love wins.
I'm thinking a lot about that phrase--"love wins." I've seen it splashed all over social media in the past few days.
Mostly I've seen "love wins" posts from friends who have changed their profile pictures to rainbow-stripes. And their posts seem filled with true joy...but perhaps also a little triumphalism? Even a few posts that seem to feel like a little kid sticking out his tongue and singing "neener-neener-neener!"
On the other hand, I also see friends with no rainbows to be seen...and their posts lately seem filled with angst, sorrow, worry, anger, and woe. Perhaps a little bitterness? Maybe a little defensiveness? No rainbow-joy here. Certainly no "love wins."
For those of us who claim the name of Christ--whatever we may believe about homosexuality--I'm wondering how well we are exhibiting a "love wins" way of living? This is an honest question...and I'm asking it of myself at the moment as well.
You see, I believe the Bible teaches that homosexual practice is sinful. But there are an awful lot of other things the Bible also teaches about sin. And I've felt for some time now that contemporary Evangelical Christianity has singled out homosexuality as The Big Sin. And I wonder sometimes about why that is. I have a feeling that it might be out of a sense of "I'll call THAT sin, and speak out against it...because it isn't my sin...which would be a little too uncomfortable to address."
You know what I mean? What if we started calling out the sin of materialism with the same fervor? That would get a little uncomfortable, wouldn't it? Because then we might be speaking about our own sin. And maybe we would start to feel a little guilty about the way we spend our money, and our lack of generosity, and the way we think about people who have less than we do. And maybe we would have to start changing our own behavior...because it is out of line with what the Bible teaches about caring for the poor, and justice for the oppressed, and showing mercy to others, and...loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Because that's the real problem, isn't it?
We know (I know) that Jesus, when questioned about which of the 600-some laws passed down through Moses is the most important, gave this answer:
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - Matthew 22:37-39What is the identifier for someone who is serious about doing things God's way? Jesus himself says it: we will love!
If we're serious about following Jesus...love wins.
I'm picturing churches on Sunday morning singing:
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,Okay, that was a little nasty of me, I admit it. (And perhaps not very loving.) But I wonder if this is how the church is perceived in our broader culture? Because this doesn't sound like Good News to me.
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored;
And they'll know we are Christians by our backlash toward people we don't like, by our backlash toward people we don't like,
Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our backlash toward people we don't like.
They will know we are Christians...by our love. That is Good News to the world!
In 1 John 4, the apostle gives this encouragement to the church:
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
That is a hard teaching, isn't it? But there it is in black and white. Ouch.
So maybe we in the church need to start thinking about marriage-love. Maybe we won't all see eye-to-eye all the time. Maybe there will times of friction. Maybe there will be stress because we don't agree. But marriage love is the sort where we know we'll get through it. We know we'll be okay.
Maybe then we can start to understand what John is saying here: "There is no fear in love."