I think the church is having a major heart problem right now. Maybe this heart problem is just confined to my college campus, maybe it’s not. Either way, I feel the need to personally talk about it and address it. I feel the need because it has become a part of my story and my journey and my life.
I’m going to preface this with scripture . Mark 12:30-31 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
No. Greater. Commandment.
None, zilch, nada.
There is nothing we are called to above loving God and above loving our neighbor.
I think we struggle with the latter. I think we have a hard time loving those who are different. The weird neighbor, the one who looks like us but has that secret—the one thing that we don’t talk about.
I’m guess I’m the weird neighbor. I have a not-so-secret-anymore secret. It’s out. People know. They talk. Assumptions get made. And honestly—the church is doing a shitty job at loving us. They are being prejudice, and extending hate over grace, and being flat out cruel.
They aren’t loving their neighbors as they love themselves because anyone who wants to feel the way that I am being made to feel needs to work on other things first.
They are making me feel dehumanized. Every message. Every insinuated post. They are making a naturally extroverted verbal process shrink inside her head and stay there.
They are making me feel invalid. Like my stance doesn’t matter. Like there is a right and wrong. It’s like because I hold the belief that I do—I am not worth hearing out. Or if they seek out conversation it’s to shove their belief down my throat or make me feel like I am somehow at fault for my view. I feel like I’m being shoved inside a box. I feel like I am being condemned.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1 promises us that we are free from condemnation through Christ Jesus. We all are and we are supposed to love our neighbors.
I am instantly reminded of the story in John 8, the one with the woman who is being charged with adultery. The people of the town are about to stone her for her actions. I feel like that woman. I can imagine the fear in her heart, the way it resembles an iron fist wrapping around her ventricles and atriums, choking off her life but yet she still has to go about her days. She had to stand there and accept her fate. I feel like I am frozen and having to accept my fate.
That’s not right. And I find hope in the rest of this story. I find comfort, like I often do, in the words of Jesus. I find comfort in the implications of the line ““Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Because they couldn’t. They couldn’t throw a single stone.
Loving your neighbor means exchanging stones for grace. Exchanging stones for buckets and buckets of grace and just when you think you’re on the right track, request more grace.
I think we get caught up in the moment, of the reactions, of the feelings that we don’t match against truth. We speak out in anger and pride and self-righteousness.
But to love God with all our heart and body and soul and mind means to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Sin is a heart problem, love is not.
I’m going to say that one more time, because it’s important.
Sin is a heart problem, love is not.
Sin destroys. Sin is dark and secretive and addictive.
Love wins. Love is light and joyful and freeing.
I have sin in my life that I struggle with. I am an idolater. I place things on pedestals and let them take the place of God. I think that is one of my many sins, it’s definitely the root of many of my sins. I sin every day when I lie, lust, speak out in anger, give into my prideful thoughts, etc.
Love is not a sin. Love is waking up every single day and deciding that you are going to choose someone over and over again. Love is vulnerability and intimacy and support. It’s talking about the dark things and the light things and the medium things. It’s talking about all the things and then putting Christ at the center of everything. Love is good. Love is patient. Love is kind.
So once again I’ll say this: Sin is a heart problem but, my dear, love is not.
And I am so thankful that is so.