Monday, June 04, 2007

Love as Sacrifice

"You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. No so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus in Mark 10.42-45 (NIV)
We have said that loving people--even those we perceive to be enemies of the truth--requires relationship, service and sacrifice. Relationship--close proximity--is the basic need for love to happen. I was reminded again this morning as I read about Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7.36ff). He was willing to go to a tax collector's house or a Pharisee's house. He wasn't concerned with what would happen to his reputation if he associated with a sinful person, whether that person's sin was moral (like the woman who anointed him in this story) or religious (like the Pharisee). Service flows from relationship; those we know we are more apt to take care of. We meet their needs. We do all the things of Matthew 25: feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, visit the prisoner, etc. when we know the hungry, thirsty, naked...
But service cannot stop at the meeting of basic needs and still be called Christ-like. Jesus' last statement in the Mark passage is that he came to "give his life as a ransom for many." This raises a challenging question for me: what am I willing to give my life for? Who am I willing to give my life for? "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dar to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5.7-8)
Now obviously this whole line of blogs about "loving your enemy" applies to this reality: loving your neighbor. In other words, everyone who crosses my path or whose path I cross as I follow Jesus. How then does the community of Jesus-followers apply this to loving the gay community?
Relationship--we need to know them.
Service--we need to meet their needs.
Sacrifice--it is time that we gave up trying to manipulate the world into acting right outwardly so that we're not uncomfortable, and work at loving them for who they are. The love of God working through men and women will not leave any of us the same as we were. It profoundly changes us, inside and out.
It is time that we gave up on using worldly power the way that Jesus said the Gentiles do, lording even good things over people.
It is time that we sacrificed our own agenda for the sake of others, not in some milquetoast passivity that lets sin and evil rule the world, but that overcomes sin with love and evil with good.
Can the church in the US go there?

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