Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Love" assumes disagreement.

For the last month or so, the recognition of Love as a command has taken on a whole new dimension for me. And it's simply this; if we're going to agree, then we're going to find an easy peace. Love won't be a challenge. You and I naturally feel positively about others when their view of important things aligns with our own. Thus, love assumes we won't agree.

The reason we're commanded to love each other, among other reasons, is due to the fact that we will disagree in almost every category of our existence. (I wonder how many of you just thought Well, not every category.) Disagreement is simply an effect of us all having our own, even opposing, takes on the universe and its contents. 

When God says "Love each other," God is not demanding 100% agreement. God's alerting us to the very opposite scenario. Otherwise, the command to love makes as much sense as a command to blink. It's already happening. "They will know you are my disciples by your love," Jesus insisted. This, I take to mean, "They will see you as diverse, awake human beings- not clones, and be blown away that no matter where any two of you find each other, or what you think, you're in perfect harmonious love. That's what will set you apart as mine."

I've been asked a lot lately about Absolute Truth, and whether there is any and whether we can apprehend it. It's an important question, and my answer is always the same: Truth is a person, not a proposition. Christ is our absolute. Everything else is relative. That's putting a whole lot very simply, and I confess that I can make it sound like there's no more discuss to be had about this sometimes. But as I understand the summation of our faith to be Love, and that Christ is all there really is, then it feels critically important for me to keep things uncomplicated (which is different than not taking things seriously, mind you.)

Christ is the only absolute.
Love is our standard for conduct.
This is, in the only way I can understand it, who we are if we call ourselves Christ-followers.

The implications of this are quite stunning, especially for a person (such as me too often, frankly) who still believes somewhere deep down that people need to not be wrong to be right. On the contrary, our faith is built on Loving each other, not mere correctness. Almost as if God is more (primarily? only?) concerned with how we navigate our disagreements than whether or not we ever figure out the truth we're disagreeing about. Is it possible that we're all working on a project together, and the Architect is more interested in how we unite than our proper interpretation of the blueprints? Is our behavior on the work site the project, and not the building?

I grieve for the devout theologian that reads something like this and thinks that it's weak. That it's taking an easy, unthinking way out. This was the view I used to hold. When people said things like "it's all about love," I knew they were technically right, but also took their words as an admission that, at their core, they just didn't like tension or being potentially disliked. Like the guy teaching a Creationism vs Evolution seminar I went to early in my faith. His class turned out to be about being humble and loving toward those who come to different conclusions. "It's about love!" But I had signed up for the class to gain ammunition for my "side". I was furious. I even tried, in front of everyone in attendance, to point out that his thesis was dead wrong. He humbly said it might have been, which made it hard to keep arguing. Today, I couldn't be more linked to that young sage's heart. He was the deepest well in the room because he could love and remain humble in the presence of anyone and any idea. He got it. I missed it completely.

My prayer is that I can continue to help people understand, as I am continuing to, that disagreement is written into the mandate to Love. We shouldn't think our responsibility is to get people to agree with us. It's to love (which in practice will be found in our listening and understanding and considering and refusing to dismiss or mischaracterize, etc.) someone we think may or may not be totally wrong. To love others enough to show them Christ, verses trying to get others to submit to our understanding of Christ. (A Christ, by the way, who washed more toes than he stomped in the name of Truth).

May we find ourselves anchored by the absolute of humbly bringing all our diverse perspectives to the table to commune. There is, in my opinion, nothing truer to the person and mission of Christ than this. Hope you agree.


Leslie said...

This really resonates with me at my core. The irony is that I can feel myself getting somewhat inflated and proud about the truth that I perceive in this way of thinking... and irritated with other people who don't seem to get this. Sigh... so much work to be done in this heart...

Steve said...

This exact phenomenon might be a good follow up post. There is a tendency to argue with argumentative people about arguing, and only allowing people in the circle who believe everyone is invited into the circle. Oy.