Owe Nothing But Love

Supreme Court decisions in the past week have set off a firestorm of accusations, critiques, insults, and put downs on social media.

We have not been our best selves. In a season of distrust, anger replaces reason. Emotional barrages are launched toward groups or individuals we disagree with. Resentment masquerades as wisdom. Facebook posts taunt those who disagree with our viewpoint. Comments on news sites sling hate. Our digital world allows us to express our opinions sometimes openly, often anonymously, and too often viciously. With our rhetoric, we blind ourselves to the realities in other people’s lives and their very real pain.

In the midst of this summer of discontent, people of faith have a special responsibility to create safe spaces for conversation and places to build bridges of understanding. We need to be the people who remember that when Jesus told us to “Love one another,”(John 13:34) and “Do to others what we want done to ourselves,” ( Matthew 7:12)  he didn’t give our Facebook and Twitter posts or our anonymous newspaper comments a pass on that.

Instead we are called to be the people who bridge rivers of distrust and cross oceans of false assumptions. We are to be people who listen and hear – who allow space for conversation, dignity and respect . . . Creating places of empathy and understanding even as we stand, polar opposites from each other.

John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite.”

A good way to celebrate our nation’s birth, is to open our hearts to all of God’s children and to let love rule our thinking, our speaking and our doing.

During a period when the Christian Church was being formed, the apostle Paul wrote these words to the new Christian community in Rome, “Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not murder; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Romans 13:8-9

A version of this post was first published August 4, 2016, as “Jesus Doesn’t Give Our Politics a Pass on Loving our Neighbor.”