Love is a cosmic miracle. It heals, spreads joy and brings people together. It is supernatural in its ability to transcend race, religion, gender, economic standing, heartbreak and separation. You cannot possibly go wrong with love. It will touch every heart with which it comes in contact. The bible speaks about it at length. It says “Love suffers long and is kind, “ and many other things. Love is linked with faith and hope, and I think it is safe to say that those who love are also people of faith. These two are tied to one another. How can you be a person who has no love, and still be a person of faith and hope? And yet, we see far too little love. We see judgment, condemnation, rejection and harshness all too often; all too often in the name of being the most perfect church on the face of the earth. How can this be?
It stands to reason that God’s church should be a place where love and compassion are without end. It should be a place where those who are hurting are able to go when the rest of the world turns them down. It should be a place where you should expect utmost truth and honesty, mercy justice. Instead, what do we see all too often? I’m afraid we see men who will sit in front of someone, examine them as though they were some sort of unattractive specimen, and then pronounce judgment on them; “No, sorry, you will not do. You are not quite good enough.” Consider the case of a young man who would like to be in the church but who is dealing with multiple issues, just being young and confused, for one thing, maybe lacking guidance and direction that he is not getting at home, just in general being mixed up. But in spite of all this, he wants to do what is right; he wants to be a Christian, marry a Christian young woman and have a Christian home. He is subjected to multiple visits with ministers who never see him as good enough. There is always something wrong with him and he has no idea what it is. He is trying to fit the criteria of men. He is trying to follow all the right rules and do all the right things. Yet they tell him he is not good enough. How can anyone refuse someone the right to live their life in the way that they choose, among the people they love, living the way they want to? How can they force someone like this into a world they are unfamiliar with and will no doubt be chewed up and destroyed by? Think about a mother, or a father, a husband or wife who runs into some kind of difficulty and struggles for years to be restored to fellowship with family, friends and fellow church members. These people are everywhere. All of us know them. Some of them have deep problems, have been struggling with abuse issues, rejection issues, emotional issues, and they need acceptance and the cosmic miracle of love. Instead they are set to the side and the rest of the company moves on without them. How can this be? What kind of an organization is this?
Husbands and wives are separated. Children are cast into the cold world. Preachers frown thoughtfully and say “No.” “You will not do. We are very sorry, but you will not do.” I once knew of a preacher who said to someone, “It is very painful for the flesh, but we must say no to you.” Who gave them the right to refuse God to someone who is desperate for him? What kinds of people employ these tactics of control and cruelty rather than love? I would like to say to the people who are caught in this dilemma, “Just get up and move on,” but it is not so simple. These cruel men hold all that is dear to them. They hold spouses and children. They hold potential mates and livelihoods. They hold private schools and nursing homes. These things are the benefits of those who fit the mold. Try being a little different and not fitting the mold. You will lose everything you hold dear. There are dozens upon dozens, dare I say hundreds, of people who have been cast off when all they wanted was a safe place where they could be understood, loved and accepted. If a person has lacks and needs, they do not need to be cast off, but they need an environment where they can be nourished and grow. Love will heal the sickest of the sick. Those who are damaged and broken need a place to be healed. Instead, all too often they find rejection and refusal. This is indeed a shameful state of affairs.
The sad thing is that many people who are broken and damaged actually believe that men have the power to shut the door or open it for them. They believe these men have the right to dispense God as though he were a commodity. Instead of walking away and shaking the dust from their feet, they linger about on the edges, hurting, angry, and eventually earning the label of bitter and offended, very dangerous, someone who is not to be listened to. I cannot repeat it enough times, this is shameful. This has nothing to do with God, but rather with ego and control. This is about tactics, not love. Love is very beautiful and will heal the most broken of sinners. Love restores homes and families, love delivers from addictions and depression, love heals mental illnesses, God’s love is so powerful that it can be said it is the most powerful force in the world. Why do we see so little of it? Oh, we see plenty of it amongst those who are doing fine. If you are a woman and you are filling the bill, you will have your share of love. You will be given responsibilities in the church, the sewing circle, school lunches; the small roster of duties that are doled out to women will be available to you. You will be kept busy as the wife of a youth leader or school board member. If you are a man you will be allowed to function on boards or committees, you will feel useful and important. All of this can feel like love. This adds up to a certain type of acceptance. But if you are different, the one who truly needs to feel love, you will be marginalized and left behind. I am so troubled by this. Who will defend those who are cast aside? Who will offer a place for them to heal and grow?
Don’t ever forget, love is the most powerful force in the world. Love enlarges the one who gives it and the one who receives it. Love grows and expands and creates miracles. Love makes a way where there was none before. Love mends the broken, heals the sick and draws everyone together. I must say again, “Woe to those who refuse love to the hurting.” Your reward will be according to your deeds. The house that you are building, if it is not built on love, will crumble and fall. Your organization is just that, an organization, and nothing more. The world is full of them. You are no better or no worse, just another. Don’t pretend to be special. Don’t speak to me of your faith if I do not see your love. As long as there are hurting people sitting outside the door, longing to be let in, you are nothing more than an organization, and not a very nice one at that. We need more understanding, more mercy, more justice, more love, more help. Unless I begin to see it soon, I will conclude this machine is broken beyond repair. It is a behemoth, staggering along under its own growing, unsustainable weight. It cannot continue much longer unless there is love. Do I make myself clear?