Monday, February 11, 2008

Lent: Do I Love

"No, no, we are not satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

In this one of Martin Luther King Jr's most famous quote he makes reference to Amos 5:24. His struggle is not a quest for fairness and equality, instead it raises a standard to demand no less than Biblical Justice. Biblical Justice is about correcting the divide between the oppressed and free. Compassion and Mercy must be equal to all people, of all means, from all backgrounds. One could read Zechariah 7:9-10 or Isaiah 1:17 for more thoughts from the prophets. Christ reading from the prophet Isaiah in Luke 4 or painting the picture he does of judgment in Matthew 25 shows that participating WITH GOD in this realignment of equality is at the heart of being a follower. Yet these ideas were not new from God in the time of Christ, they were not new in the time of the prophets. These ideas were meant to be part of the fabric of God's people from the very giving of the law.

Read Leviticus 19:9-18
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.
Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

Do not steal.
Do not lie.
Do not deceive one another.
Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him. " 'Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.
Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.

Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.
Do not go about spreading slander among your people. " 'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the Lord.
Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
The law places the responsibility to provide for the poor on equal par with the expectation of truth, fidelity, and honesty. Christ highlighting the command to "love your neighbor" and his explanation in the parable is an affirmation of the important place the unlovely have in the Kingdom of God!

As I reflect on this I am reminded of my personal favorite, when it comes to MLKjr quotes. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” In this sermon MLKjr reminds he audience,

"By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power...The relevance of what I have said to the crisis in race relations should be readily apparent. There will be no permanent solution to the, race problem until oppressed men develop the capacity to love their enemies...Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way...While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community."

This is exactly the kind of truth Christ was calling love when he spoke of loving one another. "Love you neighbor" and "Love one another" are serious demands that require our full effort. These commands are as serious to the Kingdom and more burdensome to the human condition than the commands of righteous living. Embracing the discipline of love will lead us to face the force of forgiveness toward our enemies and the ugliness of the least of these. Love can not be practiced from the comfort of our pews, or the type pads of our laptops. It must be lived among the stench of the dying and the offense of our enemies. It is in our entering of those places we ask the question, "Do I Love?"

1 comment:

Erin said...

Man. Second reminder in as many ways that I pretty much suck at loving well.

Guess I have some homework to do...