theROCK

Sticking with Love

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“I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.

And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love.

And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love.”

A portion of a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered over 50 years ago.

 

The Shoes of Others

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I was walking to church. It was a Saturday morning. I was to be an altar server at a wedding. I was in fifth grade. I came past our school and turned toward the church. Seeing me, one of my school mates came racing down the grassy hill in front of school where he had been playing. He came right up to me and punched me in the mouth. He said he hated me because I was a “goody two shoes”. I had no idea what he meant.

I went home after the wedding and told my mother. She said I should pray for him. I did not find that easy, but decided on praying that he would die peacefully of some fatal illness…and do it before Monday.

What does Jesus want from us when he tells us to pray for those who mistreat us? As I grew up, I knew my prayer for my enemy from fifth grade was not right, but often I traded this prayer for wishes that my offenders would change. I prayed that those who mistreated me would think more like I did. In reality, this “mature” prayer for my enemies was no improvement from fifth grade. So what are we to do?

 Jesus tells us: stop judging, stop condemning, stop closing the door to those who hurt you. Jesus calls us to radical empathy, putting ourselves in the shoes of others in every encounter we have, joyful or painful.

This is the formula for holiness and believe it or not, peace. Instead of wishing evil upon that boy who punched me in fifth grade, if I had just understood that he was having a real bad day, the incident would not have bothered me so much that I still remember it decades later.

Stop your unwillingness to love, and be healed.

Living the Love

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I have two favorite verses from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:31-13:13), “Love is patient” and “Love never fails.” I think these two ideas call us to think of others and put others needs ahead of our own priorities or selfishness. Love exhibited as patience can repair so many ills in the world today. Did you get cut off in traffic? Be patient with that stranger. Has a co-worker or friend done something or said something that offended you intentionally or not? Practice love as patience. We never really know what others are carrying in their hearts.

We prove that love never fails when we look outside of ourselves to serve those around us. There’s no need to search out those in need. Life presents us with daily opportunities to love. Living the love described by Paul costs us nothing, but can change our life and the lives of those we touch, more than we can imagine or know.

Let’s make an extra effort to try to be patient with someone. In a quiet, unassuming way, let them see that Love Never Fails

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