Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We Love

Love God. Love your neighbor.

Keyword: Love.

Sanctification (I dare say that the entire Christian experience) is defined by Love. St. Paul calls love the greatest of gifts and places it in the proper perspective in the 12th and 13th chapters of First Corinthians. Love flows out of our common, living faith. It binds us together as a people.

A Christian without love has nothing. Love's importance eclipses the wisdom of the greatest sage and the knowledge of the best academic among us. Love overshadows the greatest prophetic utterance of the enthusiast and the deepest existential experience of the mystic. Love is more than the sum total of our personal passions. Love goes beyond the self-serving nature of how we want to view our faith and connects us to a selfless, sacrificial Christ.

There is no shortage pseudo-Christianity. This humanly devised forgery is all around us. It comes in every flavor, style, and tradition. It can make itself liturgical or purpose driven. It can appear charismatic or stoic; pietist or rationalist; heterodox or orthodox. It can adapt itself to suit our individual taste, but it only offers a dead faith that can do nothing but value practices over people and dogmas over deity. It is the devilish circus where the one-man-show of idolatry can thrive without having to trouble the self with interruptions like God and His people.

As we temper our subjective emotional excesses with proper discipline and objective truth, let us never become so cold that we close ourselves off from the organic nature of the Body of Christ. Let us never become slaves to our intellects, but remain slaves to Christ. Let us never pervert God's good gifts into excuses as we attempt to justify a lack of genuine love.

We must be true traditionalists. The holy, apostolic faith has always been a life of repentance, sacrificial love, and humility. The legacy of the true church has always been a journey of love: love for God, love for people, and love of the truth. The Gospel itself is a message of unwarranted, vitalizing love. We serve a God of love.

The church is no place for spiritual narcissists because there is no living faith that fails to work by love. As Lutherans, we must work hard to recognize the crucial difference between the vital intimacy that is extolled in Scripture and the dangers of unbridled emotionalism.

Let no one disparage a life of love.

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