Friday, January 20, 2012

How we love . . .

I really need to write something about how (and why) I need to find a new church to serve in, so that seems to be the last thing I actually want to write about.  While I was procrastinating and cleaning a lot of things right now, including archived post topics (I'm set for the next ten years in terms of topics), I found this quote from a blog post, and it got me thinking. 

"I’ve also found that the more I trust in Christ’s redemption to be sufficient, the less overtly religious I am. And, quite honestly, the more suspect overtly religious people become to me. When I’m with somebody who talks zealously about faith, about Jesus, about the Bible, after a while, I find myself wondering whether or not their faith is strong at all. For instance, if I were with somebody who kept talking about how much they loved their wife, going on loudly and profusely, intuitively I would wonder whether or not they were struggling in their marriage. I would wonder whether they were trying to convince me they loved their wife, or if they were trying to convince themselves."

I found myself thinking about the great shema.  We are called to love the Lord with heart, mind, soul, and strength, and I wondered how talking about God is loving him.  Which of those categories does it fall under?  All?  None?  I wonder if this comes back to the fundamental truth that love is an action, a verb, something you prove by your actions.  Is it that our words, to some extent, don't matter?  Or is the problem that our actions and words don't match up? 

How do we love God?  How do we show others that we love God?  Is the answer to both these questions the same? 


  1. A few random thoughts... where it's appropriate, loving your spouse can certainly mean saying how fortunate you are for having them, or what you appreciate about them... this is the kind of thing that I think we typically do in our hymns/songs of praise & worship, celebrating being a part of God's family. But yeah, I tend to get put off by people who gush about it, unless they're brand new Christians (kind of like people who've just "fallen in love"), because it strikes me as trying too hard.

    My church is in the process of adopting a new mission and vision statement, and it's based on the "Greatest Commandments" from Luke 22. The mission is "Loving God, Loving Neighbor," and the vision is "to be a welcoming neighborhood church with a heartfelt devotion to God." I don't think you can properly love God without loving neighbor, especially given what Jesus has said about the times in which we feed, clothe, visit him, etc without realizing it. We also talked about the church's core values, and wound up with four that tied into loving God, and four that tied into loving neighbor. Being Christ-centered and Biblical, and engaging in participatory worship and teaching/learning were the ones that tied into how we love God; inclusiveness, service, mission/evangelism, and ministering to children in particular were the ones that tied into loving neighbor.

    That was a really interesting process, because we were trying to figure out what practicing the Shema/loving neighbor meant for our church, in the context it's in, with the people who make it up and the ministry opportunities it has. I suspect that loving God may well be expressed in different ways by different local churches or different individuals. Who knows, maybe for some people talking zealously really is an authentic expression of their love for God. I think my suspicion of it is based in experience of a Christian subculture where people seemed to think they should talk that way, but didn't seem to me to be living a life of faith and obedience to God.

  2. That subculture experience matches mine. It reminds me a bit of that Steve Taylor song "I Want to Be a Clone" where we focus on talking the talk way more than walking the walk, and it matters more how you appear and speak "at church" than how you act any other day, time, or location.

    Thanks for sharing about the process your church went through to figure out how best to love. It's interesting to hear about.

    I wonder, too, though, how people deal with this on a personal level. Sometimes I feel like we focus only on what the church does/should do, and we don't bring the responsibility home to ourselves and what we should do. Maybe that's not a wrong way for us to think since we are supposed to be the body (acting in concert is the assumption), but I wonder.