No doubt we are living in tense and turbulent times. Whether on the side of ignorance or advocacy, our current social climate is a storm few are ready to trek into. What do I say? What do I do? Who do I talk to about what I’m feeling?
No matter how well crafted the argument I may have, it will not be received without the driving force of change; Love. Intellect pales in comparison to a love expressed. Jesus knew it. He knew it to a depth that he was willing to give his life for it.
But it’s just a simple four letter word?!
Somehow, Paul an apostle of Christ, articulates this incredible revelation as he writes to the church in Corinth. A church planted in a region dominated by intellectual thinkers, savvy businessmen and loose morals. A church filled with people who had ideas about how things should go, how to handle civil disputes, and which teacher knew more concerning the hidden meanings in God’s word. Sounds all too relevant if you ask me. It’s ok, I’m not talking to you I’m talking to your neighbor! Secular culture can be erosive to the simplest things in life. So I offer you this…
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
Next time you part your lips to say anything to anyone: if it is not laced with love, BE QUIET! To the atrocious injustices that flood the news, let love be your motivator for change, or STAY AT HOME! Simple statements, big action. As a Christian, that is the weight of your discipleship. A heavy love.
Injustice cannot stand when I love my brother and I hold myself accountable to a fierce love that was freely given to me. So, let’s not beat around the bush, the deeper question still arises. Do I love my brother? For some people who are reading this article your love is biased to people who look like you, or live where you live, or more deceptively dangerous you hold a color-blind love.
Peter, another apostle of Christ became afraid to eat with Gentiles in mixed company according to Galatians 2. Peter had an excuse for his divisive behavior, fear of rejection from other Jewish leaders. Paul confronts this contagious hypocrisy and superiority complex head on.
“When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?” Galatians 2:14 NLT
This distinction is important because at that time it was culturally frowned upon to eat with someone who wasn’t Jewish. When we realize the breadth of the unifying power of the cross we also recognize its depth of power for ALL people. Jesus died for me as a black man just as much as you. To discredit the difference is to amplify division. It is foolish for you to be Christian and understand the power of the cross if your private thoughts and public actions remain divisive. Injustice of the black community is injustice to the community as a whole. Let’s call it what it is: prejudice and racism. Ignorance to the pain of your brother is a silent crime, whether through willful overlooking or deflection. It then becomes way too easy to ignore a pain you are not a victim of. I challenge us all to see each other, skin color included, with the eyes of God. Through the eyes of love. Take up the pain of people who were excluded and, in this case, ignored. The justice that comes with love can never be silenced. This LOVE WILL NEVER BE POLITICIZED but those who carry it can be. I know I’m ruffling those subjective feathers now.
Paul defends this love and the understanding of it not only to his ministry equal but to those who are learning the faith. There is a responsibility to this heavy love. To express it properly, without reservation and without labels. Inherent in this love is an accountability to our differences and thus the far-reaching power of the cross.
Bryant Stokes is currently the Manassas Campus Worship Director, something he wouldn’t trade for the world. If there is one thing you should know about him, he loves Jesus and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies!
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