May 23, 2019
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)
There are (more than) a handful of teachings from Jesus that have the same effect as a slap to the face. This verse is one such reminder that living into the Good News is at times so beyond our own power.
Here is a very simple (and simplistic) “for instance.” I know that a very broken little dog adopted us a few years ago. While this Border Collie is smart and agile beyond belief (even though she is now been deemed a “senior” dog!), she races about carrying her own demons. She can be illogical and unpredictable – even with her own rules of engagement.
On Saturday, at the parish fund raiser, my plans had been for Abby to come with me and stroll around, meet y’all in a friendly venue while I keep a watch that she would not partake of any of the food that her internal systems cannot process. But here is why, as the proverb states, we should all have a plan and write it out in pencil.
She hated the experience. She was unruly, aggressive and even barked at some of you whom she knows and (normally) likes. She was overwhelmed with the scent of the food and the sounds of the music and the sight of so many people and other dogs. She was disobedient and disruptive and in the end I had to take her back home because she was having none of this! She kept pulling away (and my shoulder is still sore this morning). And to top it off, after I left her home to return to the event, she cried and whined that I was leaving her behind liked a spoiled two year old not getting her way. As Charlie Brown so often cried: “AUGH!!
Culture defines love in terms of emotion: I love because I feel love for this person, that object or this idea. Every so often we have to take a few moments to reflect on the loveable folk in our lives who at times do very unlovable things. Thus love is more than emotion. Who are the ones who disappoint you? Who is not interested in, may indeed scoff at, your well wishes or other feelings for them? Who are the ones you try to assist but he or she is simply ungrateful and angry all the time.
I asked a parishioner to define “love” last Sunday, and he wisely just smiled and shook his head at me! Loving those who, at times or perhaps even all the time, do not love us, is the hallmark of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Loving our kids when they are always obedient, cheerful or not displaying raging hormones is easy. Loving them all the time – well, it’s a challenge. Loving our friends – easy. Loving our enemies, Jesus teaches, is priceless but without the grace of the Holy Spirit, impossible! It’s even hard to always love a broken little dog who on occasion is utterly unreasonable. But “if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32)