What is the moral responsibility of the progressive Christian whose theology boils down to “Love God. Love People.”?
I met a young man who is interning at a church in Denver last week. We discussed how the idea of simply loving God and loving people sounds good, but what does it look like to live that theology out as ministers?
The love of Christ is a liberal idea. It is copious and radical and limitless. I was raised that the love we are freely given by God has restrictions on it. I was taught there are things that I can do to lose levels of love in the eyes of God. Now that I am a mother, I have to say that seems like bullshit. I am an heir to the reign of God because I am adopted into the family of God.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17) [SIDE NOTE: This text always makes me so excited to read that I end up throwing my hands in the air and waving my arms around with excitement. As I did this just now my wife, Jess, just looked at me and said, “Romans, again?”]
To love God as first priority is to accept the role of God in my life as an authority figure. I love God because I respect God. I accept God’s movement in and out of my life because I want to experience the best things God envisions for me. When I fail to allow the movement of God’s Spirit through my life and my decisions, I am setting myself up for a different path (although not necessarily a wrong path).
To love people is to see the Creator in every person. We are all made by the Creator with a passion and care that we could not imagine. I say “we” could not imagine because I am not the most creative person. I saw someone draw an entire portrait of another person with nothing more than a pencil. She was able to capture their face and characteristics with extreme clarity and vision. I imagine this is how God did it. God imagined something beautiful and then there you appeared.
Our responsibility as siblings and co-heirs to the reign of God is to love one another. This does not always seem nearly as pretty or easy as we want it to be. Loving someone is hard work. Allowing ourselves to be loved by someone is hard work. It’s not about fuzzy feelings and endless positive affirmations from a another person. It is about living everyday with the mess that is our lives in the most authentic way possible. The most loving thing we can do for a sibling in Christ is to call them to a more authentic place. Not always fun, but always needed.
It is an honor to be a part of this family. Love comes with no restrictions, but it comes with responsibility.
Go out there. Love God. Love People. Living this idea out really can change the world!