This exchange occurred at Messiah Truth:
The New Testament equips me to love All.
On the one hand, one who diligently lives as Jesus taught eventually reaches a point where loving All is not merely a possibility, but a responsibility. I am at that point now.
On the other hand, loving All of necessity entails loving situations, events and people one might much more easily abhor.
1 Corinthians 12 applies to the need to love one’s whole self. We are acquainted with an individual who finds one feature of himself, or rather of his story, so abhorrent that he preoccupies himself with it, until the self-hatred becomes unbearable; at which point he lashes out. I wrote “A short route to agony” with that person specifically in mind.
In 1978, I applied through the United Methodist Church Board of Global Ministries to become a missionary to Japan; I would teach English at a Japanese Christian high school. As part of this process, they required me to read William Stringfellow’s An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land. I hated it. For the most part, it was a typical 1970’s radical screed, blaming America for every single problem that exists in the world. One point stuck with me, however. Stringfellow opines that the Kingdom never does or will manifest in any permanent or worldwide basis; the Kingdom instead appears here and there, now and then, in a community that honors the gifts of its each and every member.
1 Corinthians 12 applies equally here. I belong to “A real church in a real ’hood.” We are diligent and intentional about being that sort of community. Now, I have learning opportunities here: even though I am homeless myself, it is easy for me to look down on “the critters and the crazies” whom I meet at McDonald’s. Birur nitzotzot relates: evangelism entails facilitating each person’s discovery of his or her own way to shine.
In the Parable of the Great Dinner, the master directs his servant:
“‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” 23Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.'”
In the Kingdom, there are no outcasts. Everyone has a place at the table.
(Originally posted 2014-09-24.)