I hate it when my Facebook feed gets clogged up with a bunch of hullabaloo over Hobby Lobby. . . or Chick-Fil-A. . .or Duck Dynasty. . . or any of the other issues that get Americans’ panties all in a wad.
Having Facebook friends who run the gamut, I saw everything from hallelujahs to total discouragement and vitriol over the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling last week. And I can’t help but think that, like the Chick-Fil-A debacle a couple of summers ago, this kind of propaganda takes our eyes off the truth.
Because as much as we take pride in it and celebrate it, as we did last week on Independence Day, the United States is NOT the kindgom of God. The Constitution is not the Word of God. The flag is not a holy garment.
In America, we’ve elevated “being Christian” to a status symbol rather than an identity. We decide how holy someone is based upon where they shop, whose weddings they are willing to attend, what church they frequent, which politician they vote for, and where they stand on the Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby or immigration debate.
The Bible presents a different scenario.
This is how they will know you are Christians: that you love one another.
That’s the only litmus test.
- Not whether or not you have a fish sticker on your car or Philippians 4:13 on your T-shirt.
- Not whether you know the books of the Bible in order, or say “believe on” Jesus instead of “believe in” Jesus.
- Not whether you wear a flag pin on your lapel or carry your gun into the local Taco Bell.
- NOT whether you can articulate the “Romans Road” path to salvation or quote scripture denouncing homosexuality.
It’s by how you love.
1 Corinthians, penned by the Apostle Paul, is known as “The Love Chapter” and it gives some good guidelines of what love looks like.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (1 Cor. 13:4-7 MSG)
Here’s the thing though. You can’t fake love. It’s not like you can go through 1 Corinthians verse by verse, follow all the instructions to a tee, then check it off your to-do list.
Morning prayers, check. Bible study, check. Love one another, check.
Anyone who’s ever loved another person knows that love is messy. It’s complicated and it’s more than a feeling (cue Boston song here). It’s a commitment and a bond and a faith and it’s impossible to put into words.
When it comes to love for other human beings, it’s important to remember the human being part. Love is not a formula that can be defined or summed up in textbook fashion. Love involves people. And people are messed up, flawed and difficult to love. Me and you included.
Throughout the ages the great artists and poets and philosophers and theologians and even scientists have tried to put a finger on love, to define it if you will, but they’ve failed to capture it completely.
Because explaining love is the same thing as explaining God, and nobody’s quite got Him all figured out either.
Despite what some obnoxiously loud religious folks may tell you.
It just doesn’t matter what Christians think about Hobby Lobby.
What matters is how Christians love.
- Love has nothing to do with how many status updates you have on your support of Hobby Lobby or your disgust with President Obama.
- Love has nothing to do with your purchase of “Testamints” in the checkout line or your position on gay marriage.
- Love has nothing to do with whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
Love has much more to do with how you respond to that homeless woman outside of the store as you leave with your purchases. It has more to do with how you treat the people who are different than you, perhaps the ones who live a radically different lifestyle. Love has less to do with judging and much more to do with giving and accepting and welcoming and sympathizing.
Even if you don’t agree with the person or the choices they’ve made. . . or continue to make.
News flash: you can love people and still disagree with them.
Love has to do with the heart.
Love means giving others a sliver of the grace and mercy and compassion that God exceedingly and abundantly and continually gives you.
And that might even mean loving someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Perhaps even someone who voted for Obama.