Isn’t it the case that the simplest things often get missed in our all-too-frequent attempts to be profound?
Consider love. It’s the thing we, Christians, have the hardest time with.
It defines God, and yet we spend more time defending God’s right to be angry with people than His desire to love.
1 John 4:8 hits me square between the eyes. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. I know theology. I know about God. I know how to diagnosis emotional and relational disorders. I know why my theology is right and yours is wrong. All of these things can be studied and learned.
But I have great difficulty with love.
I suspect it takes a wisdom that comes with time. It involves learning what love isn’t by hurting others and failing. It takes seeing how wrong I am, even if or when I have my facts right. It requires vulnerability. It chooses to listen rather than to correct. It means saying hard things with great humility, and overwhelming concern for the well-being of the other. It is elusive, because when you think you’ve discovered love’s secret, you inevitably fail at it again.
Christians at their best have been known by their love. They rescued newborn little girls from trash heaps in the first centuries of the church. They became advocates for the poor and rejected. They presented an alternative to the greed-and-power-driven. They risked their lives to put the Bible into the hands of ordinary people. They rejected distinctions of Hutu or Tutsi, Croat or Serb, Jew or German, choosing to stay and become a target. Today, they abandon lucrative careers in law to join International Justice Mission in the fight against sex trafficking in Third World countries. They start La’Arche and live among the mentally handicapped. They stay in marriages with difficult people. They own their failures with a kind of recklessness that defies our human tendency to self-protect and defend at any cost.
I know a lot of theology. But do I know love?