Text: Corinthians 3:1-13
Love. The ultimate answer to almost every question we can ask about life and death and everything in between. It’s one of the words we use so casually that we don’t feel the need to clarify what we mean by it. What do we mean when we say ‘I love you?’ Do we mean how much we feel affectionate or how much we are committed in a relationship with the person we love or both? Love is feeling not in a sense that it comes and goes momentarily but as a means to experience God. Love can touch us deeply that it is the driving force for everything we do and say. It can make us to do things that we couldn’t possibly do without it.
Do you remember the first time love came to knock on the door, opening you up to a new world that you didn’t even know existed? Love makes us feel alive, and feel like we belong to the world. Love connects us to the unknown and the unknowable. Love makes us fearless. I believe that love is the most creative and courageous energy in the universe, and it is available and accessible to all. Martin Luther King said, love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. Love is stronger than anything even death, and is bigger than anyone else.
That’s why we say, we fall in love. We can only fall into something bigger than us. That expression also implies the secret of love is that we must lose ourselves to love. It’s like learning to swim in deep water – giving up control so we can be supported by what surrounds us. More often than not, we try to clutch at any straw because we don’t know what’s underneath our feet. We don’t want to lose control. Love makes us vulnerable, and we have to be vulnerable in order to love. The good news is that we are never isolated in love, so we can always use the support of love.
Love is also a choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love. Morgan Scott Peck, American psychiatrist said, “Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… love is as love does.”
Love requires both intention and practice. Every day when we wake up we can renew our promise to love and do our best to act upon it throughout the day. And at the end of the day we can allow ourselves to be embraced by love so we can begin again. The fact that love is a choice also requires our commitment to love. We never stop learning to love. We may fail to love, but love never fails.
Love That Knows No Bounds
Around this time last year, I was listening to Senator Murray Sinclair through livestream. He shared stories and insights of Canadian communities, churches, and educational institutions responding to the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action. Sinclair introduced an expression that elders in his communities use about what it is that we must grow up to be. The expression says, “I want to be a kind person” and that’s what teachings of Anishinaabe are all about. “If you are a kind person”, Sinclair continued, “there is nothing you can’t do and there is nothing that will happen to you that you can’t overcome because others will be kind to you and will help you.” “Kindness is the key to everything.” He emphasized, “It is a key to reconciliation.”
After his heartfelt speech, during a Q & A session, a man in the back stood up to ask a question. He expressed a confusion about kindness. He said, ‘some of the kindest people he knows – both the people in the past and in the present – have absolutely no sympathy for 150 years of colonization, and no interest in moving to reconciliation.’ He honestly asked whether Sinclair had a different definition of kindness than a more popular one. “If you have a limit on your kindness” Sinclair answered, “you are not being kind. You do not know what it means to be kind. It’s like if your definition of love is to hurt somebody you do not know what it means to love.”
I was struck by the concept, the kindness that knows no bounds. It can also help expand our narrow definition of love to the love that knows no bounds, the perfect love that casts out all the fears. (1 John 4:18)
We live in a world where there is an overwhelming pressure to conform to the culture of lovelessness. Hate crimes make the news daily while the work of love or the act of kindness by ordinary people are seldom noticed. Love has been politically misused. All of us have been taught or at least influenced by the dangerous idea that a certain group of people are not welcomed and therefore unlikable based on their religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, ability or any other backgrounds. We should not allow any institutions – the government, the media or the church – to tell us who is okay to love and who is not okay to love. We have so much to unlearn in order to truly love. How can we say we love anyone while rejecting others just because who they are? How can anyone make a nation great while imposing disadvantage on their own citizens? How can we achieve reconciliation if we want to keep the way things are as they are?
Sinclair said, what reconciliation turns on is one very simple concept. “I want to be your friend and I want you to be mine so that whenever anything goes wrong for you or for me, we can fix together; in this country we must fix what has gone wrong together. We must fix our relationship.”
Love that knows no bounds is calling us. We respond to the love by seeking to know it, experience it and share it with everyone and everything else. That seeking is itself a manifestation of divine spirit (bell hooks, All About Love) because God is love. And through this seeking, we will know fully, even as we have been fully known.