The past few days has been a bizarre contrast of events for me. On one side there was love. I spent the weekend with twelve families from Easter at a family camp at Wapo. It was oozing with love and community. Yesterday we taught our first two sessions at Confirmation Camp (also at Wapo) on the Ten Commandments. We taught the students that these are God’s Words of Law and Promise that offer us the freedom and opportunity to love God with our whole heart and love our neighbor as ourself. This weekend the Good Life Worship Series brings us to the topic of Love, so I’ve been soaking in that as well.
Love, love, love, everywhere I look.
Then Charlottesville happens. Hate, violence, fear, and death showed up on the other side in a gut-wrenching fury.
This is a disturbing contraposition, to be sure.
Social media is raging on both sides. Many pastors have spoken out eloquently in response to this public display of hatred and violence. I encourage you to listen to this sermon in particular by Mike Carlson.
Now, I have to preach on love this weekend. Let me put it plain and simple. Love is the only antidote to all of these problems. 1 John 4:18-21 says,
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Fear is the problem. Fear prompts self protection. The brain regresses to the reptilian stem. We close up, stop learning, and lash out in violence to eliminate the perceived threat.
Fear comes from ignorance.
God’s love drives out fear. Love stands in the gate to the sheep pen with open, nail-pierced hands and drives the blood thirsty wolves of fear away.
Love puts up with us even when we blow it, it is the most excellent way of goodness and kindness that gives us a chance, because it has a low boiling point.
It doesn’t toot its own horn or puff itself up. It doesn’t force itself on others, it doesn’t seek after its own desires. It is other-oriented.
It doesn’t get all riled up over silly things or keep a list of offenses to use against you. It doesn’t get excited about the wrongs we’ve done, instead gets very excited when we dwell in the truth.
In all things love protects us, believes in us, has hope that we will make it to the end, and always waits up for us, no matter how long it takes us to get there.
In the end, love will never let us down or give up on us.
Then I showed this video. I think it is even more appropriate in the face of the Charlottesville violence. Pray that God gives me the words to speak this weekend. Peace and love to you.