Lately, everybody has been talking about the recent debate on how it was that this spinning ball of beauty came into existence. We have filled Facebook with reactions of every kind, resulting in a predictable and disheartening retreat, each to our own corner, where we huddle with likeminded friends around the raging campfire of fear, pausing only to lob another grenade at the other side.
It is utterly fascinating (and beguiling) to me that we’re still doing these debates, when the world is so hungry for something else. We’re hungry for something nourishing and good, something that satisfies. I do not think a debate satisfies anyone, not deep down.
And the simple words of Jesus of Nazareth echo through the generations:
Love one another.
This is no small thing, but it is satisfying.
It’s nourishing when we love one another. When we push past fear to listen to an enemy, we destroy the enemy by making him our friend. We become human beings together, who hunger and thirst and cry and laugh and worry and eat too many chips.
So I say: more love, less debates.
My friend Michael pastors a church whose mission is “to love our community in the name of Jesus.” By community, they do not mean their gathering of friends across space and time. They mean their actual community: the neighborhood in which the church exists, which happens to be in Northeast Minneapolis.
They meet for worship at a school, which is what a lot of new churches do. But because of their mission, they are always thinking about ways to love the people that go to that school during the week. So they started becoming friends with school teachers and staff, and they soon realized that many of the kids who come to school during the week are hungry. They found out that 92% of the kids at this school qualify for reduced or free lunches. When you’re trying to love your community in the name of Jesus, and you notice the children in that community are hungry, you realize that love looks a whole lot like a sandwich.
Someone had the brilliant idea that the people from the church could start bringing food. Love isn’t all that complicated, it turns out. But because love also looks like dignity, they realized they needed to be crafty about how the food got to the actual kids. So they decided to partner with the school and other community organizations in ways that were relational and holistic, and they came up with a legal, school approved way to simply put the food directly into the kids’ backpacks (which hang in lockers) during the school day. This little project led them to understand that there are 22,000 children in Minneapolis who are hungry, so they’re dreaming of ways to help all of them. (If you’re interested in learning more about this remarkable project, click here).
It’s remarkable how tangible love gets when a few people are willing to walk into dark places. It’s amazing what happens when you start thinking about what it means to love your community in the name of Jesus. Pretty soon, you start asking the question, who isn’t my community?
How do you feel after reading that story?
How do you feel after watching a debate?
Love one another.