Love

Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in God’s love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” (1 John 4:16)

“These three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

We are contemplating love, always, always, and especially now in Black History Month. God IS love is what the good book says. and Jesus, being God with us, makes his own active love the standard by which we love each other in the world. And love is the greatest power at work in the world to transform — as Dr. King says, “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

Pastor and blogger Carlos Rodriguez captures my imagination often and did so earlier this week when reflecting on Black History Month he wrote: “I see no color” is not the goal. “I see your color and I honor you. I value your input. I will be educated about your lived experiences. I will work against the racism that harms you. You are beautiful. And I will do better.” That’s the goal.

Sitting with those words for a while, and keeping in mind the pattern of love Jesus gives me, I write down on legal pad the following the ways I’m challenged: 1) Learn a Story that helps me better understand. 2) Act for the good of others. 3) Seek in myself to move from darkness to light.

Learn a Story. The way of Jesus is displacement, radically other centered. He is born into the pain and suffering of humanity. Indeed, he himself suffers for the sins of those he comes to love. As we will soon ponder again, “amazing love! How can it be that thou my God should die for me?” Jesus suffers and dies with a deep understanding of our story. So what would it look like to make contact with a black friend or neighbor NOT to dialogue, but simply because I want to learn your story, to understand your lived experiences, to just listen and learn a story?

Act For The Good Of Others. The love of Jesus is other-centered in it’s activity. He is not concerned with his own rights, privileges, and power, no — his concern is for wounds of others, for the sins of humanity, for the brokenness of the world. He embraces his own suffering — loss, less, pain, even death — so that others may have new life. So when Jesus compels us to love each other as I have loved you, we are commanded to a love that is active, embraces suffering, and is focused on the needs of others. “I will work against the racism that harms you.” This is the love of Jesus we now embody in the world. What might that kind of love look like for me? Having listened to the story and experiences of another, I might ask them, “How might I be able to work together with you for justice?”

Seek in myself to move from darkness to light. I need to locate the darkness that is at work in me, and naming it, move toward and into the light of Holy Love. I want to locate ways that I can better love. This is the constant rhythm of confession (“I have not loved like Jesus”) and repentance (“I will! I want to better love like Jesus.”) I must stop being defensive and fearful about my own complicit partnership with darkness — This is part of every human lived experience — and seek a new way forward, a new way of loving. Bishop Desmond Tutu writes: “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” Here the question is, “Will I commit myself to grow, to change, to be formed more and more into the love of Christ?”

I the end, that the goal of Christian life, to grow through life more and more fully alive to the love of Jesus Christ, for me, and through me, for me, and through me. It is this love that has the power to and will end all hatred, oppression, and injustice. It is this love that God intends for his creation to be fruitful and multiply in. In his great work, Strength to Love, Dr. King invites us: “We have before us, ever before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.

Peter Hawkinson

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