We are called to love without conditions. That means everyone. That doesn’t mean everyone who deserves it, everyone who agrees with us, or people we consider to be safe. It means every SINGLE one. We, as the church, need to stop wasting our energy looking for justifications that allow us to choose who we love. There are none.

We also need to stop pretending that love means arms length affirmations. Saying you love someone is not proof of anything. Real love is love in action. Loving like Jesus is dangerous. It is illogical. It is against reason. It’s not for the faint of heart. But it’s our duty and our meager act of gratitude for the ridiculous love our savior showed for us-as undeserving as any other human. I’m glad he didn’t choose to love only those who were loveable, because I doubt I would have made the list.

I have been devastated to see how desperately we, the church, have publicly failed at this throughout the election season and into this year. While this is America, and we have a right to free speech, I think we would do good to be reminded that that right is not how God advises us to speak. James 1:26 –“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. We would do good to heed this advice. We are in need of some seriously tongue bridling before we make our religion fruitless and empty.

I look around and see the church, struggling for its place in all this. We say we hate the sin and love the sinner. But is that the message we are putting out there? When someone tells me I am “stupid and naïve” for wanting my country to support refugees who are struggling to survive in war torn countries, I wonder if this is really “the church” Jesus had in mind. When I was attacked for supporting a candidate, who supported health care and education for everyone in our country, because I was a “socialist”, I wondered if that was really such a bad insult. Maybe I am. Maybe that’s what love looks like to me.

You see, I can’t quite imagine Jesus being a huge fan of the pride it takes to say-those people don’t deserve what I have. I can’t imagine him asking for proof of employment before handing out those loaves and fishes. It wasn’t his style. His vision went deeper, and in that place he saw us all as exactly the same, children of God, fallen and in need of a savior.

You know something crazy? If a Muslim family moved in next door to me, I wouldn’t move. I wouldn’t start a petition, or build a taller fence. I’d pray for them. I’d invite them over for coffee. I would show them the best version of Jesus I could, and I would believe that the God of the universe just might be able to use me to show them the truth of his love. Why don’t we believe that our God is big enough to do this?

When I see how fearful the church community is, I become frightened too. Not of terrorism and socialism and our moral downfall, no of something even worse and bigger than that. I am scared, terrified really, that we are forgetting just who our God is. We limit him to our meager understanding. We doubt his power.   We try to protect ourselves, protect our family, protect our country, as if we have any control at all. Control is an illusion. We are simple mortals, rearranging our own chess pieces to make ourselves feel productive. It is time for us to lay it all down and give it to the great protector.

If we want to win people for Christ it’s time to put our heart where our mouth is. Until we fight for those who have no voice, care for those who are in need, and love beyond the borders that have been drawn around us, I’m afraid we sound a lot more like those clanging cymbals described in Corinthians than we sound like Jesus.

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