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Perhaps what has brought me hope these last few weeks is seeing people come together. An election that has made many groups feel as if they’ve been voted against as someone else was voted for, we have linked arms in a necessary kind of way, vowing to stand up for each other and remember that none of this is normal. With our skills, vocations and talents—as artists or lawyers or teachers or pastors or leaders—we will fight for human rights.
We will show them that love trumps hate.
This weekend at church we sang a song with a simple chorus: “What a beautiful name it is, the name of Jesus.”
And the name Jesus made me think about the word love.
I’ve had to take lots of Twitter and Facebook breaks and remember this is what everybody else is saying, but I have a true north, a deep center, a deep belief that has been there for me since childhood, something I can come back to. A voice that is more important than the noise. And in the quiet I have remembered how central the gospel is to all of this.
As I hear the cry for justice and the call to love, I wonder, can any of this be done apart from the truth of that gospel?
The gospel that tells me that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. A gospel that restored me to my savior, a grace I will never earn nor deserve. A gospel that is the essence of reconciliation and redemption. A gospel that is the essence of love.
“Love one another,” says the scripture, but it doesn’t stop there: “for love comes from God…This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:7,10-11).
This is how God showed his love among us: Jesus.
This is how we are to show our love among others: Jesus.
Everything done in his name, said in his name, breathed in his name. We walk in his name, teach in his name, speak in his name, work in his name. We love in his name. Because while were still sinners, he died for us that we might live. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Here’s the thing about human love. It’s not sufficient. It’s not enough. It is conditional. It is wavering and flighty and it is not always trustworthy. At its best, relative to the love of God through Christ, our love is pretty decent. And at its worst, our love is terribly misguided, used as a disguise for selfishness or the pursuit of power or fame or something else.
But the love of the Christ, the love done in his name, the love done through only his power? There is no void on this earth it cannot fill.
The nature of love, as it is written about in scripture, is deeply sacrificial. It is patient and kind. It does not seek its own desires. It rejoices in the truth. If you give to the poor or sacrifice your own body, but you do it without love, you will profit nothing. You’re a resounding gong, a clanging symbol.
It isn’t human love that says we are inherently valuable and worthy and, therefore, worth fighting for; it’s Jesus’ love. And that is something entirely different.
So as we go out into this world with love as our shield, ask yourself, “Is it my human love or is it Jesus’ love that I hold and champion? Is it his name, or is it my name?”
Work done in the name of the gospel of reconciliation and redemption is the real work. Work done in the name of love builds its foundation on sand.
What a beautiful name it is. Not the name of love. The name of Jesus.