He was the kind-hearted professor that everyone wanted to listen to and just absorb his grace, wisdom and love. His outlook on the world was not bleak or pessimistic; rather, it was a vision of God’s invisible action, bearing fruit every day. He would share his experiences of a kind waitress; a sunrise painting the fresh morning sky; the stories of people’s ability to overcome division. He, in many ways, was the embodiment of love.
His class was a simple title, The Theology of Love. His premise was that the whole of scripture must be viewed with the lens of love. If we begin theology basing it in the bedrock of love, then our perception of God, each other, and self are always brought back to love. One student decided to challenge that in light of some of the gruesome stories of the Old Testament and the horror of Good Friday. And he invited us to spend a week studying only one scripture and then to return with our thoughts. The scripture was Luke 10:25-37. Take some time to read, and reread this story. Ask yourself what is being said in the midst of the story…what does love look like?
The following week we showed back up and he began by asking what was learned. Clearly, the story is one of the most well-known within the scripture and as we spent time with it, we each discerned a valuable lesson—love is the action of our lives by the interaction within the community—of God and each other. The end of his lesson was simple—How many commandments did Jesus say we must follow? Simply, to love God with our whole self and love our neighbor (all of humanity!). Why is this simple command soooooo hard to keep? As the Prof was fond of saying, Jesus knew we would spend a lifetime trying to keep this simple command.
We, at Central Union Church, gather beneath a gold-laden banner that reads, Love Never Faileth. Perhaps it has lifted your spirit, reminded you of this simple truth, or challenged you to live out the love that never fails. My hope is that love is more than words we speak, but it shapes every single aspect of our lives and the ways in which we engage the neighbors of our world!