According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Friday, May 13, 2011

Love Is Not Weak

May 11, 2011

"Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (I John 4:7-8)

The problem with love is that it can’t be systematized.

It can’t be explained, controlled, regulated, or legislated.

It’s something you know, but can’t exactly teach; something you experience but can’t contain.

Love both inhabits and transcends our religious categories. It’s wild and unpredictable and prone to showing up in places we’d rather it not be.

Love defies expectations.

I think perhaps that’s why I keep bumping into theologians and religious leaders who turn their noses up at the suggestion that love is the most fundamental element of Christianity. “Well what do you mean by love?” they demand. “Because it’s not very loving to let people walk around with bad theology, now is it?”

I encounter such people at conferences and in radio interviews, in local churches and online, and I understand their concerns. They are worried that a new generation of Christians is slipping into a sort of feel-good faith devoid of conviction, reason, and doctrine.

In some cases their fears are justified, but in most I think they’ve just confused the idea of love with the idea of niceness. They seem to think that because love is so elusive and hard to define, it must be weak— the ideological crutch for those who don’t want to offend.

But when I consider the love that Jesus showed and that I am commanded to imitate, the last words to come to my mind are “nice” or “weak.”

To love as Jesus loved requires more strength and conviction than a human being without the Spirit can muster. It requires giving without expecting anything in return, forgiving enemies, witholding judgment, assuming the position of a servant, looking after the forgotten, and caring for neighbors. It requires living counter-culturally by resisting the temptations of indulgent wealth and self-serving power. The kind of love that Jesus taught and exemplified crystallizes on the cross, where looking down on those who had put him there Jesus said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

That. [Kind. Of. Love.] Is. Not. Weak.

Love is good theology because God is love. According to both John and Paul, a life devoid of love is a life devoid of good theology. Without love, we are clanging cymbals, useless noise. Without love, all our carefully-crafted apologetic arguments mean nothing.

That said, I hope that those of us who keep talking about love avoid sabotaging our efforts by failing to embody it, both among the “least of these” and among our brothers and sisters who raise thoughtful concerns about how all this talk of love will affect our doctrine.

...I think sometimes we just forget that we’re actually talking about the same thing.

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