Love in action

What does love look like in the world?

It can’t just be declarations. You can’t keep saying that you love gay people or black people or poor people or immigrants but then do things to them and support policies towards them and vote for people who hurt them. To love someone, to practice love, requires you to be loving. Love requires more than flowery Bible verses, carefully cherry picked from 1 Corinthians or the Psalms. Love requires more than public declarations (preferably on Facebook) about how much you love people, and want what is best for people.

Love requires sacrifice. You must be willing to give up your comfort for others. If you aren’t willing to do that you aren’t willing to practice love. You simply want to be seen as a good, loving person with having nothing actually asked of you. That’s not love. That’s hypocrisy. That’s Bonhoeffer’s cheap grace.

Love in public is justice. Love put to work in the world requires the healing of wrongs, the ending of injustice, the establishment of fairness and justice. What love doesn’t look like is policies that separate families at the border, that criminalizes and punishes people for who they love, that continues to oppress and murder people of color, that make wealth inequality larger and larger, that disenfranchises people from their rights as a citizen in a democracy. Love in public means you probably shouldn’t be supporting politicians who are cruel and callous.

Love in public has to extend a lot further than just unborn babies.

Love is not safe. Love is not easy. Love is not comfortable. Love won’t preserve you in your easy life.

Love – real love – will challenge you. It will push you. It will shake up your comfortable existence. It will ask a lot of you. If it doesn’t do anything of these things –

then it’s not really love.

Christian love is wildly irresponsible and illogical and irrational and also beautiful and boundless and the cure for everything that ails us. I don’t want to hear responses to this along the lines of, “but that would require me to give something up,” or “somebody will take advantage of me.” My answer to that is,

“So?”

Sometimes, that’s what love –real, messy, consequential, Christ-like love – takes. Sometimes, it asks us to be vulnerable, to be willing to take a risk, to be willing to extend love to those we’d rather not. Sometimes love means the recipient won’t return that love, at least not right away, and we might get hurt. This happens in personal love and public love.

But, as Christians we should be willing to give up anything for the sake of love. Including our possessions. Including our safety. Including our family. That the example of Christ. Christ was willing to die for the sake of love. The least we can do is sacrifice a little bit of our creature comfort for the sake of somebody else.

What love is, is our deep, enacted concern for others. It is our willingness see the striving for humanity in others and not see it as an affront to your own humanity. Love has to be –has to be- recognizable as love for it to be, you know, love. Love that looks like hate, or anger, or dislike, is not – stick with me here- actually love. It’s just hate, or anger, or dislike.

I’ve said a lot here. Maybe Scripture can say it better: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

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