Community in Action August 4, 2020

So these days I am trying to read bits of John Calvin, another one of our forefathers in the faith. I am not as enthralled with Calvin as I am with Barth, but still this man of deep faith has much to say to us, of which I am trying to digest just a morsel.

    Today he was harping on that old adage of our faith that we should love everyone who crosses our path. He says, “We ought to embrace the whole human race without exception in a single feeling of love; here there is no distinction . . . Whatever the character of the man (sic), we must love him because we love God.”

    Calvin is telling us that we must not allow “artificial divisions of nation, class, morality, even friend and enemy. All are to be loved; no qualifications are necessary,” (this is a quote from Donald K. McKim an astute theologian from our century interpreting Calvin). 

    As I thought about the parable of the Good Samaritan I realized that when Jesus told this story he didn’t present a model of someone loving the Samaritan (an unacceptable person to the Jew who the people would never choose to love because of their differences). No, in his story he showed the Samaritan as the one who loved another person. He showed compassion without regard as to that person’s race, class, worthy, or any other artificial difference we make, which God does not.

    Can we love like that? Probably not on our own power. Yet Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help us love those whom we find “unlovable.” Perhaps those “unlovable people” don’t have the same values we have, perhaps they don’t believe the same way we do, or even perhaps they don’t show an inkling of affinity towards what we hold most dear. According to Calvin, we are to love them.

    We are to love them because first, we love God and secondly, because God commands us to love them. This is not always easy. If a person treats you poorly or even worse treats someone you love poorly are you still suppose to love them? What do you think?

    Our nation is struggling right now with living out this command. But who makes up that nation? It is us. A long time ago cartoon called Pogo illustrated our situation. Pogo, a turtle, says, “We have found the enemy, and it is us.” We are the ones who are to love all God’s creatures. We are the ones who are to be bright shining stars in the darkness, as I mentioned Sunday quoting Paul in Philippians 2:15.

    The first step for us to love another is to listen to them. Those around us who are discontent need to be heard. Those around us who make us uncomfortable need to be the ones to whom we listen. Everyone is someone’s child and would we not be willing to listen to a hurting child, then we need to do the same to those around us.

    Of course social media does not always provide us with the true talking points of another, but I would say listen to more than one source. Ask yourself, and others whom you trust, if that source is reliable. Be willing to listen to what may make you feel uncomfortable and ask yourself how can you love that person.

    I am trying to educate myself in listening to those who are crying out in pain, who seem to have no one listening to them and I am finding many have things I need to hear. Let us all try to listen more carefully and then ask God to help us know how to love them.

    Seeking to love with you,

    Pastor Randy

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