loveWe find a great deal written about love in scripture. Perhaps the finest sentiments about love are those shared by the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. What is most striking about the passage is that it was written to a church which was fighting. The audience were a group of people who could not get along. They were divided by ideology and issues of leadership. In seeking to find unity and harmony Paul writes to them about love. Not telling them why they should love one another, instead focusing on the qualities of love which endure through all things.

We have come through a difficult week. A time when the prospect of nuclear war with North Korea was discussed loosely and without reservation. Though perhaps not spoken of directly, the threat thinly veiled. The discourse raised memories of ‘Duck and Cover’ movies and made a younger generation wonder if the post-apocalyptic world of the Fallout video game franchise was close to being a reality.

In the end, it was not love which won out, but diplomacy. Nations and their leaders have taken a cautious step back and this is good. It is good for the world and it is good for the impoverished people of North Korea. The ability to discuss rationally the events at hand is in part what I believe led to the release of Pastor Hyeon Soo Lim of Light Korean Presbyterian Church. Pastor Lim went to North Korea out of love for its people.

Love was also on display in Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend as clergy joined together in prayer, hoping for a better world than the one they woke up to. They gathered together to demonstrate the love we have from God in the face of evil. And there is no other word than evil for the White Supremacists, Neo-Nazi’s and members of the KKK who marched while black police officers protected them. Angry white men with torches is not an image I expected to see in my lifetime.

On many issues that confront us I will concede that there are various shades of grey, complexities that need to be considered. On this issue, there is only on side, there is only one correct position for the follower of Christ to be on. That is on the side of Jesus Christ, the one who is the way, the truth and the life. We cannot call ourselves Christian and also tolerate violence, segregation, discrimination or hate. For such evil, is the antithesis of what Jesus did for all people on the cross. We also cannot remain silent in the face of such evil, as our silence makes us complicit.

What was on display in Charlottesville was sin. We often think of sin as a laundry list of things that God disapproves of. We adhere to the Ten Commandments, trying to get things right and stay on God’s good side. However, sin is not a list of do’s and don’ts. Sin is anything that separates and damages our relationship with God. Hatred, segregation, violence all separate us from God.

We pray ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’ and I’m fairly certain that hatred, segregation, violence and a host of other activities and feelings are not what the kingdom of heaven is about. I don’t think there are angry white men marching with torches in heaven. There is something fundamentally wrong with the images we have seen this past week. They should disturb us and we need to do something about it.

Enter the Christian, the follower of Christ who is not identified by color of skin, gender or nationality but by professing they follow Jesus Christ, who said love your neighbour as yourself. But loving your neighbour is not enough if you do nothing about the hate you may see them display. Love alone won’t change a broken world or a culture paralyzed by fear. Only action, motivated by love and filtered through prayer, can do that. Only speaking truth in love, will begin to change and soften hearts. It is past time that we stop focusing only on our narrow pursuits and personal concerns and realize that as disciples of the living God, we are called to identify sin and utilize the redeeming power of God’s love.