Loving Folks With Whom We Only Partly Agree

Loving Folks With Whom We Only Partly Agree (2.21.13)

John 13,34: "A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you..."

Luke 6,32: "If you love only those that love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those that love them."

Matthew 5,44: "But I say to you [something new] love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."

I had a simple revelation recently.

If we are commanded to love even our enemies, it's real likely that we are also commanded to love those with whom we only partly agree.

What do you think?

Can we master this bit of the obvious together?

This doesn't mean I have changed my gung-ho, all in, whole-counsel-of-God Christian stripes which is the biblical way of serving our living God.

But I also think Jesus realized that only sharing ourselves with our own kind limits His gospel to a rather small lot of folks. And it also forgets that he loved us when we still hadn't fully gotten with the program either, and were still way ignorant of Him and our fellow human beings to boot.

But I'm also thinking that the unbounded love and mercy, and all the other great stuff of our faith, are more than idealistic and optimistic nouns of bulletin speak, but real verbs, real choices, presented to us again and again in the course of our lives, choices that reach right up into our faces and hearts, right up until, well, today.

For example, how might we process National Public Radio's Garrison Keillor, the famous host of Prairie Home Companion, and author of such books as Lake Wobegon and Homegrown Democrat (Viking, 2004)?

We might not agree with NPR and everything he says and writes, but then again Keillor does have a way of quoting a lot of scripture in his work. And call me simple, I like people quoting scripture anywhere.

So what do we do with Christians with whom we only partly agree? Do we reject them, and all they say, or do we love them anyway?

I think Jesus made it clear from his new commandment to love like he did. We love them anyway.

And if someone like Garrison Keillor is going to keep quoting scripture, we might even sometime take a second look at what he is actually saying.

Are you ready for this?

Here's some Garrison Keillor. These two excerpts suggest that Brother Keillor has no intention of taking the mark of the beast any time soon:

"... the spirit of the underdog class that seems rather scarce these days. Corporate America is very successful at training this out of people through flattery ("You are a vital member of the HellMart family") and terror ("Smile and show your gums or you'll be fired and have to leave town to find work"). School tries to knock it out of you, the church coaxes you to be passive and sweet, but the human spirit is resilient and the blue-tinged girl refuses to curtsy."  HOMEGROWN DEMOCRAT: A FEW PLAIN THOUGHTS FROM THE HEART OF AMERICA, Chapter 10 "A Civilised People", p. 153.

Here's another:

"People are responsible for the dumb things they do, yes indeed. There is a Moment of Reckoning that comes occasionally to each of us and we're entitled to it. The truth dawns. If you leave your bike outside it will rust. If you build on a flood plain, eventually you will get flooded out and your sofa waterlogged and your linoleum come loose. If you are you're worrried about drinking, stop. If you smoke cigarettes, you may wind up with lung cancer or emphysema. If you gamble, you may lose your shirt.

There are, however, broken people in this world and it does not help matters to order them to shape up and then walk away. You wouldn't do that with anyone you know personally. Other people count, even broken ones. You cannot gallop through the streets like a Cassock and not notice who you are tromping into the dirt, who curses you as you go jangling past.  ... You learn this when you're two years old and other little kids climb into the sandbox with you: the sand must be shared. Jesus said, "Unless ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Ibid p. 188-89.

Anyway, that's a little Garrison Keillor regarding some common faith based ideas that undergird our civilization. They could just as easily have been expressed by a Republican who also quotes a lot of scripture.

And anyway, what do I know, but I'm thinking all of us all called to love our neighbors, in the church and out, even if we only partly agree with them.

It's my choice and your choice, even after Jesus commanded it.

And I'm also thinking he knew there was some human and Godly wisdom in this ongoing choice to love our enemies, those sitting next to us in church, foreigners in the bar ditch on the side of the road, and even folks with whom we only partly agree.

As in, it's a whole lot easier to love folks, than not: "my yoke is easy and my burden is light."



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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.