You are Loved!
The simplest expression of the gospel — and perhaps the starting point for any discussion about God – is this: You are loved. This is one thing I believe Bill Bright got right when he penned a booklet entitled “Have you Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws.” The first three words of what Bright calls law one are, “God loves you…” He doesn’t start with sin and separation. He starts with love. Why? Because that is where God starts too.
There would be no good news without there first being love. “For God so loved the world…” That’s why love has to be front and center for the Christian. Erwin McManus, in his book The Artisan Soul, writes, “Make love the unifying principle of your life; let love inform all your motives, decisions and actions.” (The Artisan Soul, 191.) Sounds a lot like Jesus who said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength and a second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.
Do you love others by what you say… why you say it…how you say it?
Do you love others by what you do… why you do it… how you do it?
Do you love others by what you think… why you think it… and how you think?
They Will Be Loved
I’m a pastor of a Mennonite Church. It is no secret that the question of whether or not to include or exclude gay people from church life is a big one in our denomination (Mennonite Church USA) and culture. I get asked about this — in relation to the congregation I pastor — a lot. Here’s my answer. If we were to have a theological or sociological discussion on questions related to gay people and our church, I’m not sure which voices would win the day, but I’m sure all the different options would be represented. However, if — and when — gay people enter MMC, I am 100% sure they (are) will be loved.
That is the best we can hope for, because that is the best thing we can do.
Plutarch Gets it Right
No matter what we articulate theologically, what really matters is whether or not we love the people before us — no matter what shape they are in. In a poignant moment in the movie The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay, part 1, Plutarch Heavensbee, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, says, “People don’t always come to you the way you want them to.” That rings true to me. It is a profound insight for God’s people.
People don’t always come to us the way we want them to. The truth is, we don’t always come to God the way God wants us to, either. Thanks be to God, that God loves us. May we receive God’s love for us and, in turn, extend it to all those who come to us in less than ideal condition.
Truth matters, and the truth is that Jesus called us to love God and love our neighbor – no limits or exclusions.