So, what does it mean to “believe in Love?”
What appears to be straightforward question is actually quite complex. So much of how you decide to answer this question comes down to the issue of “authority.” I’ll take up this issue in my next post, but for now I want to simply offer what I’ve concluded after years of careful consideration of a multitude of theological perspectives, seasoned with what psychology has taught us about how the mind works.
For me, to believe in Love means that I will seek the most loving choice in whatever circumstances I find myself. It means I acknowledge that my “default” setting is very primal, and that if I’m not intentional about my choices, I will behave according to the Darwinian laws of survival that rule the rest of the animal Kingdom (remember… your brain’s fundamental goal is to keep you alive). Finally, this means that I recognize I’ll never be able to work hard enough or be good enough to choose Love. Some sort of encounter with the Living Mystery we often refer to as “God” is necessary.
Since I’ve chosen to trust the Christian tradition as a path that can help me choose Love, it means that I need to take Jesus seriously when he says ridiculous things like:
- When revenge is called for, turn the other cheek.
- When you find yourself with two coats, give one to someone who has no coats.
- If ever forced to carry someone’s pack for a mile, carry it for two miles.
This is the sort absurd “advice” that Jesus says we all have to internalize if we are going to participate in God’s plan to redeem this entire mess of a creation (Yes, I know… This whole business of redeeming creation is another one of those expansive notions that Christians are asked to own).
Every now and again I’m re-struck with how little actual information we have about Jesus. We Christians “faith” him to be God-Incarnate, and yet the only bio we have to show for 30+ years of human life and 3+ years of active ministry is four brief Gospels, finally written down years after he physically left the scene. These four “good news accounts” repeat each other over and over, and differ on numerous details.
If we assume that God knows what God is doing, then it seems reasonable for our brains to ask “What the…” (and you do know that the word you finished that phrase with probably reveals just how “liberal” you are or are not – LOL).
Couldn’t God have made certain that we ended up with clear, unambiguous information about this guy, not to mention clear, unambiguous info about how to properly interpret his teachings? Instead we end up with a passel of encounters, parables, and sermons that have divided committed followers into hundreds of competing camps.
But, what if indeed we actually have exactly what God intended? If so, then we see a man who…
- offered desperate people love and grace.
- reserved his harshest words and actions for those who used religion to control and judge others.
- simply said, “Follow me,” not, “get your theology straight.”
What if you just decided to put all your intellectual arguments for and against religion on the back burner, and chose Love for a month?
Nah… it can’t possibly be that simple…