Over the years I’ve listened while pastors droned on about love. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important topic—maybe the most important. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard preaching based on the “Love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13). Many a message was filled with flowery, hopeful words about loving our neighbor. In my experience there’s a lot of talk but no serious action when it comes to a life lived with love. And if nothing else love is action.
Personally, I’m constantly relearning that love has no agenda. All are equal and the only reason I should love you is because you are created in the image of God. Often I fail, but I keep trying.
I’ve also come to believe if the intended recipient of love doesn’t feel loved the whole venture is a complete failure. Why do you assume that whatever effort, small or large, anyone makes toward another will be seen as love? Where is the commitment to those not like you; the homeless person, the immigrant, those of a different faith and the LGBT community? You say you have a heart for these, but in reality you are too busy, and maybe too scared, to actually care.
[Side note here: I hate categorizing and labeling people. I do it here to highlight those most often said to be invited to but actually unwelcome in the faith communities I attended.]
I always hope for the best, but the church even has trouble demonstrating love to its own. And often inflicts the most pain. You say you love me when in truth you love what I bring to your community. Where’s the compassion, acceptance and affirmation? I’m still looking for it, and so is your neighbor.