Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, October 23, 2011 are: Leviticus 19:1–2, 15–18; Psalm 1; 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8; and Matthew 22:34–46
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:44
Love the Lord your God … Love your neighbor as your self … It’s interesting to me that central to these two commandments is love. The heart of these two commandments, on which the whole law and all the prophets are supported, is love. The reasons I think this is interesting are multiple.
First of all, it is impossible to be legalistic about love. Sorry, you can’t measure love. You can’t say, well I’ve loved enough or I’ve loved in all the right ways. Love is an organic, living, earthy thing that isn’t quite so quantifiable. You don’t get measures of love as much as you either love or don’t love…
Secondly (kind of funny given my first comment that this is turning into a numbered list), Love is an action. We tend to think of love as an emotion—but it’s so much more than that and not near so flaky as a feeling. Love is about acting … about reaching out, about being willing to risk and change and do things that you would never do without love. I mean, my husband got involved in theatre at college not because he was that interested in theatre (though he grew to like it some)—instead, he got interested because I was going and asked him to come along. Love is an action that causes us to risk our very selves for who we love.
Thirdly, related to the last thing, love changes us. It’s not as though following the law, or living into God’s dream (expressed through the prophets) is about something out there that needs to be changed. No, instead, it is about our own heart. To follow God’s law, to love God and love our neighbor is about turning our own heart outward, about opening ourselves up so that we can receive God’s gracious love poured out to us and all God’s creation. And, so that our heart may become vulnerable to our neighbor.
Fourthly (told you this was a numbered list), love doesn’t fit into absolutes very well. The law itself seems to do that. If this happens, then that is supposed to happen next—always and forever more… but with love, it’s not like that. Rather, love is about relationship and relationship is about listening and changing and growing. In a relationship, we don’t assume that just because someone else we love likes basketball that this next person we love will also like basketball. Instead, we listen and our relationship is shaped and is made different by each person. Let me tell you why this is really important: in a conversation quite recently, the question came up: Well, what is justice? That is a good question, but any abstract answer describing what justice would look like would be so general that it could never be just for everyone. I think, that in the end, God’s justice is based on this: on relationship, on love, on one-on-one personal change and transformation. I think, that in the end, while systemic change needs to happen so that all may find a place in society, true justice will not happen until we listen to our neighbor, each and every one. True justice, God’s justice, I think, will look an awful lot like love.
The Featured picture modified from an original photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephaniesadler/