Bishop Frank Logue of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia recently posted a transformative article worth taking a moment to read, especially as we head to the polls.
The sermon given by Bishop Michael Curry at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has faded in our cultural memory and yet the ever more divided world we live in needs love that is more than sentimentality and emotion. Jesus distilled his message to love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The love Jesus is talking about here cost him his life, so this love must be more than a mere greeting-card verb.
“agape.” This word for love occurs 106 times in the New Testament.
Jesus teaches about the form of love that in Greek is called “agape.” This word for love occurs 106 times in the New Testament. Agape is an unselfish love, which is more concerned about the other person than oneself. More than a passing feeling, this form of love is a decision to start with the love of God and trying to see other people as God sees them. It is an act of the will. It is a choice.
God’s love for your significant other is not changeable with mood. God’s love for your siblings does not depend on whether one just got on your nerves. God’s love for your co-workers does not depend on their likability.
This election season gives a prime example of how we can put this love into action.
The love that acts to make changes to end such needless suffering is part of the love God has for all creation. This election season gives a prime example of how we can put this love into action. While our secular divisions come and go (and today’s issues are no greater than those faced by some generations past), the true constant is that we are bound together through God’s love. We read up on the candidates and issues, say our prayers, and cast our ballots. That is how we participate as citizens. When others disagree, it can take an act of the will, a decision to love, to treat others with respect.
Following Jesus isn’t easy. Even as we hold strong convictions, we must do so without demonizing those who disagree with us. Our words and actions toward those whose political choices are opposed to ours, reveals our love of God and neighbor and is our witness to the world.
Standing up for our principles and even seeing others’ views as wrong is good. When passions run hot, we can lose sight of our values that are the deeper currents of our convictions. Deciding the person who holds opposite views is evil is where one goes off track. How we treat those with whom we disagree strongly shows what we really believe. One’s Facebook timeline might reveal more than we wish about our love of our neighbors. If we respond to the neighbor whom we know with anger or hatred for their differing political views–-or for any reason–we are unfaithful to the call to love not just God, our neighbor, and ourselves, but even our enemies.
Bishop Curry put it this way in his sermon heard around the world,
“Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way — unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive… Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well… like we are actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters, children of God.”
We need that power of love now more than ever.
Amen, Bishop Logue.