There seems to be some confusion about the meaning of the love command. A television series years ago defined “big love” as a plural marriage: one husband, a bevy of wives. The title suggested that a man with several wives must have more love to give than the usual variety of husband.
Exploring the Word
After a month of listening to stories about the folks around Jesus getting it terribly wrong, isn’t it a relief to contemplate the story of one who got it right?
What were they thinking? The obtuseness of the sons of Zebedee in this story from Mark still galls from a distance of 20 centuries. They seem so proud and cocksure in asking for seats of honor in the glory to come.
Nobody’s perfect. Or almost nobody: It seems we have to make exceptions for folks like Saint Paul, who as a Pharisee insists that he kept the law perfectly. And then there’s this fellow who falls at the feet of Jesus—a little theatrical, perhaps, but not strictly disallowed—and claims to have kept all the commandments since his youth.
The first human words recorded in the Bible occur at the creation of the woman. The man had nothing to say about his own creation, perhaps subdued at the idea of conversation with the Creator. And then woman arrives on the scene, and the man, who has made no utterances apart from the day-in, day-out grind of inventing names for the animals, suddenly becomes positively poetic: “This one, at last, is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!”
No one needs much prodding to come up with examples of scenes from the faith wars. Parochial-school-trained cousin Lisa just married that Methodist fellow, didn’t she? What’s Sunday morning like at her house? And what happens at the annual family reunion, when it’s not just the Protestant in-laws who show up these days, but the Jewish, Muslim, and Mormon ones, too?
The meek may one day inherit the Earth. But only after the strong and aggressive ones have blown each other to smithereens. Worldly power, as history has taught us, does not surrender its privileges without a fight. When the meek get in the crosshairs of what is deemed advantageous to the powerful, they quickly become an endangered species.
Who wants to suffer? If anyone raises a hand, back away and call an attending physician. Suffering is not a desirable condition, and those who possess mental health not only don’t seek it, but actively avoid it.
What does it mean to say, “Jesus saves"? Christianity is often reduced to this two-word sound bite, so we ought to consider what we intend by this statement. Ask a random handful of believers, and my fear is that the interpretation will be rendered: Jesus saves us from hell.
"Words, words, words.” So the world-weary Hamlet once dismissed the book he was reading. He had come to know too much about deceit from his troubled family to trust the accumulation of words. Well-spoken words may sound grand, but we learn that the integrity of the person behind the talk is more important than mere syllables strung together.