Last Sunday, a very elderly man stood behind the pulpit. Spending his life dedicated to studying the Bible, he declared that he was going to tell us what exactly he had learned in all those years. Since he has spent almost 50 years on this Earth longer than me, I knew we were going to get the “good stuff.” I pulled out my iPad ready for some serious note taking, cause you know…80 years worth of research was going to require serious note taking.
At the end of the sermon, I had four words that totally summed up what the Bible is teaching us.
“Love God. Love people.”
That was it. Seriously.
After almost 8 decades, this was what he had learned. No super flowery speeches. No lectures and brimstone. Those four words was all there was to know in this life. It’s what everything we strive for and struggle to comprehend boils down to.
The bigness of life is something quite simple.
As I rolled that over in my mind, I went to go pick up the kids from children’s classes.
As they walked down the hall they showed off their simple paintings and sang the little songs with conviction that we had cut our teeth on before theology got in the way.
The oldest girl was walking ahead with her new super short haircut. She had donated all of it for “Locks Of Love” because someone just like her was sick or struggling and she wanted them to be happy.
The youngest boy was running behind the youngest girl. She tripped and fell. He stopped to help her get up, patted her back and asked if she was OK.
The middle daughter and I went to the restroom at lunch in the restaurant. She was about to burst, but offered the one open stall to an older lady who came in after her.
The oldest boy offered up a prayer before we dug into leftovers for Sunday dinner. Getting a growing child to pause before eating is a miracle itself, but he thanked God for his food and his family.
The youngest boy started singing “Jesus Loves Me” as we walked through the parking lot. When he saw me smiling, he said he sang it because it’s true and when he has a bad day it makes him happy.
The middle daughter got picked on in school and wanted to buy the little enemy a nice card to show that she wanted to be her friend anyways and invite her to her birthday party.
Theology, politics of church and our own misconstrued beliefs on what the Bible tells us has gotten in the way of our faith. We’ve complicated things by trying to apply select scriptures for our own purposes or prejudices. We’ve set a bar that we fight to reach for the upper tier of Christianity and goodness. There is no finish line, no complicated test we have to pass and there is no shiny trophy we get in our later years for being the best Godly person.
Our best lessons can be from those with a childlike faith and view on the world and the One who created it.
Is it easy? No…there are some people I’ve been trying to kill with kindness for years. Loving people is not easy when we get to be adults and suffer the affliction of not being able to separate the person from the action. But it doesn’t say “love the action.” It’s simply “love people.”
Loving God? Not an easy one either when there are struggles and prayers that seem unheard as they bounce back from the heavens. But it’s not “loving God when your blessing overflow, money is good, marriage is perfect, job secure and the sun is shining on your healthy face.” It’s simply “love God.”
Loving even when you got a bad diagnosis.
Loving when you lost your job.
Loving when they are a different race.
Loving when the kids are fighting.
Loving when they talk bad about you.
Loving when your spouse chews with his mouth open.
Loving when a check bounces again.
Love God. Love people.
In spite of it all, it’s really that simple.
Categories: August 2013 Diary Entry