Wonky Looking Love

I’m trying to get better at writing as a discipline and not just writing when I feel inspired – but bear with me as I find my new rhythm. And if you are here reading, despite my learning and inconsistency, thank you.

 Consider this an inspired blog.

Maybe it’s because of Valentines Day or maybe I’m just doing a series that I wasn’t aware of but we are learning how to love others still/again/forever.

“For the whole law can be fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbour as yourself’”
– Galatians 5:14

Sunday morning at church we heard from our lead pastor Joel A’Bell on loving others. He tied a beautiful bow around the thoughts of love being kind and patient and if we are not kind we are not being loving. If we are not patient we aren’t loving.
Because love IS patient, love IS kind. While we like the idea of this, we tend to find it more difficult to live out. He made a comment about how we love to highlight the parts of our Bibles that really resonate with us and maybe those we feel we are nailing in life. He also brought up an idea that has shaken a lot of how I see the scripture and people. He admitted that sometimes he’d love to highlight the parts of the scripture that he didn’t agree with or didn’t want to try for with a black marker.

I think everyone would admit that they enjoy highlighting what they feel they’re good at. I do – but when I focus solely on my strengths and what I’m good at, what I’m not good at REALLY starts to suffer and I become an extremely unbalanced person. What about scripture? What if we truly gave ourselves the freedom to look at the Bible highlighted black with the bits and pieces and chunks and sections that we don’t agree with? What if we took a marker to the parts of the Bible that are too convicting or hard to wrap our minds around?

When I focus only on my strengths in my personality – I become an unbalanced person. When I focus on the bits of the Bible that I love – I break my own theology and God becomes that much smaller, love becomes that much more distorted and what Jesus came to do becomes a nice story.

And what of my relationships? Family? Husband? Best friends? Acquaintances? How many people would I prefer to highlight with a black marker because they’re too convicting or hard to love? Maybe they just aren’t convenient to love.

So I mix my unbalanced personhood, with my broken theology and give what’s left to others.
But only some others, because the OTHER others have been written off.

But, if God is love – and love is in me, then love CAN’T just translate to my fluro-yellow highlighted friends, my quotable friends, and my Instagrammable moments in my marriage. It needs to stretch into my soft convictions and my difficult people to love. If it doesn’t, is any of the rest of what I offer my friends and family LOVE? Real Love?

What even IS real love?

Love it Patient.
Love is Kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
Love is not proud.
Love does not dishonour people.
Love is not self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not rejoice at injustice.
Love DOES rejoice in truth.
Love always protects.
Love always trusts.
Love always hopes.
Love always perseveres.
God is love.

And if God lives in me then I have to believe that I can outwork all of these attributes.

However, if I put a check mark by what is listed that I felt GOOD at… there would be less checks than black spaces. If I went even further and marked myself 1 out of 10 for the check marks… I’d probably be good at loving 4%.

I think we learn to love when we take time to figure out what any of this really means to us. I remember reading over this list thinking,
“What the heck does ‘love ALWAYS protects’ even mean for my relationship with my husband?”

Truly, I still don’t know.

I wish I had all the answers, but that would just be for my ego. I wish even more to do this journey with people; best friends and acquaintances.

What does it mean that Love always hopes? I think it means that I always have expectancy for the unseen best that is to come. I think LOVE means that I HOPE that for all people. Not just for some. It means that at the end of this I believe for you ALL who might read this,
I believe truth to find you, for genuine care to surround you, and for steadfastness in your heart to continue despite what you might be walking through.

I’m not very good at any or all of this, but I’m pretty good at writing – so lets do the harder stuff together. I love you the best I know how, and I need you for the rest of this.

 

“For the whole law can be fulfilled in keeping this one command:
“Love your neighbor as yourself’”
– Galatians 5:14

 

Just Cause

Amos 5:21-24
(NIV, emphasis mine)
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

One of my classes this last week focused on Worship and Justice. We looked at what these two have to do with another and what expectations have changed since scripture was written up. I was shocked to discover the call in the Old and New Testaments to the leaders and governments to keep justice in the courts – be fair to the widow, orphan and poor. We have to assume these warnings were written to 1) keep them on track and 2) clean out what was already bleeding through the culture of oppressing those who couldn’t support or even defend themselves.

We as students were given different portions of scripture to look at: what it meant to the people it was addressed to, what it means for us as a collective body of Christ and what it means to us individually. My group looked at Exodus 23. I’ll summarise it for you…

  • Don’t lie about people
  • Don’t pervert justice and lie in court
  • Be fair to poor people in court
  • Be kind to your enemies property
    • Not JUST to them but even their stuff
  • Don’t take from the poor just because they are poor
  • Don’t oppress a sojourner (don’t beat down, put down, dishearten, suppress a visitor, companion, inmate, visitor, lodger, different nationalities, different religions, refugees)

When we as a group looked at what it might have meant for the Israelites we assumed maybe they had corruption in the courts and were probably exposing heaps of poor people because they thought they could get away with it. We assumed there were crooked people who were so wrapped up in the culture of slavery that they had just been delivered from that they were treating others as slaves. Granted, that’s what they knew to do but it still wasn’t just or fair. We assumed they were treating people less than what they would want to be treated like and that they were disregarding taking care of people who didn’t belong to them.

Then we moved to a harder question – What does this text mean to us as the body of Christ?
How do we take on these scriptures in the Church?

 We talked about Public Justice (How society treats and manages others),
and Private Justice (How I treat others and manage myself to benefit others).

So the public justice level around this passage would look more like how many Christians are educating themselves on the elected ‘in-charge’ of our governments and nations. Are they contributing to who is in the courts and even becoming those who are in the judges in courts deciding what is fair for all? Are we as a local church involved and benefiting the community around us? Are we investing in families and defending those trapped in Domestic Violence? Are we doing all we can to find homes, clothes, food, and clean water* for refugees and flood victims alike?

There are many more things the Church COULD be doing but there are loads of things that fall more on the individuals that make up the Church that we should probably be looking at.

Private Justice –
The hardest and most confronting question of all that we addressed is how this all applies to me? How do I treat others?

This was the hardest one to speak out loud.

I grew up in a westernised, bible belt, mostly white’ish people culture. But I also grew up with the news… I knew what areas of Tulsa (and now Sydney) to avoid if I was alone and I rarely ever walk in a park without looking over my shoulder. I grew up with a fear of homeless people because at no point do you know if they’re going to rape you, if they’re mentally unstable, if they’re in a very real sense ‘battling their own demons’ or how they would react to a conversation. But my fear grew out of judgments that began when I didn’t take the time to look them in the eyes as I walk by them on busy Sydney streets. My very judgments dehumanised someone with a story. I wasn’t being fair – I wasn’t being just – I wasn’t being anyone who remotely resembled my Saviour. Jesus, who took the time to look a naked woman in the face and tell her that He held no sins against her. Jesus, who when Himself was oppressed by the government didn’t fight back with entitlement or ‘rights’ but instead STILL SHOWED LOVE to all. I know much this last paragraph makes me seem like an ignorant… dirtyword… but this was my honest heart condition.
My ignorance turned into judgments that disguised itself as fear so that I could neatly sweep it all away as, “I’m just protecting myself”.

Am I saying single girls should stop at every homeless person and strike up conversation? No, that’s not what I’m getting at… But maybe just get involved and start to add humanity back to those around us. Maybe just start to learn the faces and names of those we equate with statistics and numbers.

My thought is that we are already a pretty passionate generation – I think that there are specific desires that are unique to individuals. Where our Private Justice comes in is EDUCATING ourselves on the issues of our hearts and GETTING ACTIVE in those areas.

Some of your hearts are absolutely wrenched for the homeless, some want to take care of the elderly, some have a resolve of adopting, some are desperate to help stop domestic violence, some of you can’t sleep at night because you’re broken over those still enslaved in sex-trafficking.

Great, I hope something breaks your heart – I hope you let yourself cry sometimes while praying over these neglecting issues that Christians love to talk about but sometimes never DO anything about.
But, OUR G-D… the one who CREATED JUSTICE calls us also to be just

The Lords desire is more for justice and fairness than for one more ‘Christian’ to write Him one more song, or worship Him one more time for all they have. He wants us to give to and restore those who DON’T have.

So after you forgive me for being a little too honest again, find one of the links throughout this blog and research, get involved, be the just cause… just because.