(I am still tying up loose ends in this upside-down season I’m in, but the words came and now is a good time for them)
There are a lot of things I disagree with right now, especially the intolerance and condescension for differing opinions – in the communities we walk in, on college campuses, in movies, news outlets, even social media.
St. Augustine’s City of God was commissioned to be written to persuade a falling Roman Empire that Christians made good citizens. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles that Christians do, indeed, make good citizens.
Christians may fail in their quest to be good citizens, but I believe after they fail, they pick themselves up and try harder to love their neighbors better. National and personal history show the success of those efforts.
Just like the scripture enables growth in our God-designed journey, so, too, does our Constitution enable growth of our country’s God-designed journey.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (John Adams)
The morals Adam’s talks about are Judeo-Christian morals. These morals are founded on the principles of loving our neighbors as ourselves.
When intolerance shouts down a political candidate or shoots up a gay bar, killing over 50 people, not only are the Christian principles of America’s foundation trampled on, but the foundation of our souls are trampled, too. It puts the very nature of our country in jeopardy.
Today, I’d just like to steep a bit in what this Christian love is that is foundational to our nation, its communities, and ourselves – a reminder of the saving, redeeming nature of God’s kind of love – and how it has the ability to make the good citizens St. Augustine extols.
“Love is patient,”
“Patience is not just waiting with grace, but living faith in that wait with grace, thinking, speaking, battling the doubt in our minds to live hope like we believe it” ~Bluecottonmemory
Love doesn’t give up on the lost. Love doesn’t condemn the lost to hell. That’s God’s job. Love loves. Love might need to be hands off and hands up in prayer, but love doesn’t give up on a prayer sent out for a lost life to be saved, no matter the frustration, hurt, or the ugliness of the sin.
“love is kind” – no matter the differences – whether you’re a Trump or Clinton supporter, whatever your religious beliefs, whether you’re a meat-eater or vegetarian, whether you’re a bottle-feeding mom or nursing mom, whether you believe in climate change or don’t, regardless of what sports team you pull for or the challenges you face.
“It does not envy” – love doesn’t “wish” it were somebody else, wearing somebody else’s shoes, with somebody else’s paycheck, living somebody else’s “luck,” focusing on perceived unfairness in a fallen world. Love learns to love the heart it lives in, so it can love others better, learns to find the beauty in the ashes of itself, and in the finding of the beauty in the ashes, discovers envy cannot exist in God’s soul garden. Then one day, the soul loves itself, content with its own shoes, its own paycheck, living with its own blessing, focusing on God’s grace in a redeemed world.
“it does not boast” – love doesn’t exalt themselves above God or look down upon the people they walk by in the daily. Love doesn’t say, “I am better than you” or “I am more worthy than you.” Instead of exalting oneself, love wants everyone to become part of God’s family as a favored child – each of us with all the benefits of a son or daughter of the king. Love doesn’t hoard God’s blessings or concern itself with portion sizes. Love brings everyone home to meet the Father.
it is not proud – A holier-than-thou attitude doesn’t make room for God’s kind of love. Love does not dig its heel with contempt into the misfortunes of others. Love reaches out a hand and lifts them up.
It does not dishonor others – love does not shame, embarrass, belittle, beat-up, shout-down, shoot-up a group of people just because they don’t agree with you, think the same, or even behave the same. Even Christians who believe some behaviors are indeed sin in our Judeo-Christian heritage realize a sinner was never brought to real relationship with Christ through shameful and dishonorable treatment. Christ came with life-changing love and real relationship; the love in us should treat others the same way.
it is not self-seeking – love doesn’t want to win a popularity contest; love isn’t motivated out of a quest for authority and position. Love is motivated only by unconditional, selfless, sacrificial care and determined affection for others.
it is not easily angered – today we live in a culture of anger formed of intolerance for mistakes, failures, differences and immaturity. If people don’t meet our self-defined expectations of behavior and performance, society feels as though it has a right to lash out in physically and verbally destructive behavior. Easy anger makes no room for forgiveness.
it keeps no record of wrongs – love forgives, redeems from a broken past, and lets salvation doe its job reshaping the soul into its intended creation. Love celebrates the reborn soul in the ups and downs of its journey.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth – Love’s character and conduct does not behave or rejoice with a get-even mentality. Love’s character and conduct don’t cheer when someone who seems to have it all falls into misfortune. Love finds peace when truth is revealed, even when it changes the narrative of the story.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love isn’t a bully, beating up others, silencing with fists, sticks or guns. Love, as a matter of fact, stops the bully at his own risk.
Love trusts the Father, always hoping in His plan, persevering because of it.
“Love never fails” (1 Cor 13: 4-8a) – Choosing love is a never-fail choice. As God is love, choosing God is a never-fail choice. If someone doesn’t choose God, then it is even more important that we show God’s love through our words and actions.
Christ said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Love doesn’t shout down or shoot down – it lays down its life to save another.