I was at an event recently where someone was slighted. It was a pretty big deal and the persons slighted took it really personally. Unfortunately, the slight became a huge part of the event resulting in some hard feelings, bad memories and lost opportunities for human connections.

When I returned home from this event there was a new bumper sticker ready to be stuck to my car. Steve had picked it up at a concert he attended while I was away. In big white letters against a royal blue background the words “RESPOND WITH LOVE” seemed to shout out at me.

RESPOND WITH LOVE.

And I wondered, what would have happened if, at this event, those words would have been our guiding principle?

Yes, people were emotionally hurt. Yes, women were disrespected. Yes, there was cause for concern. Yet, I wonder, what if, instead of becoming all defensive and righteous; what if people had responded with love. Love for self, i.e., I don’t deserve this type of treatment? Love for the other, i.e., I wonder what is causing this person to respond to me this way? Love for the enemy, i.e., I wonder if there is something about me that threatens this person?

I wonder how the story would have been different had Love narrated the conversation rather than suspicion, perceived hatred and threat?

RESPOND WITH LOVE

It isn’t easy. Particularly when people are being threatened and demeaned for the color of their skin, the origins of their birth, their sexual identity, their economic status, their gender, their being…any number of things. It isn’t easy. Because it all seems so personal.

Yet, it is what we are called to do by the One who responded to love when others spit on him, questioned his authority, stripped him naked in the streets shaming him to the uttermost, derided him, and killed him as a common criminal. And this humiliating, devastatingly awful, death became for us LIFE. Because instead of responding to us with hatred for all that we do to God’s children every day of our lives, God responded to us with love. And gave us our life back. Saying to us that there is NOTHING we can do, even killing God’s Son, that will make God stop loving us. There is nothing you can do to me that will cause me to stop loving you. I will always.

RESPOND WITH LOVE

So where does that leave us? Who claim to follow the call of God in our lives? What response is our response? Even when it seems ridiculous.

Even when it seems as if we deserve to be mad.

Even when it is right for us to be offended.

Even when it seems right to hate.

RESPOND WITH LOVE

I keep wondering how my event would have been different. I keep wondering how our world would be different. I keep wondering if we could make that our motto. I wonder…

Hope and Peace, Pastor Debra

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