Love Never Fails?

Love never fails. 1Corinthians 13:8, Holy bible.

This is the kind of phrase that makes for a nice Christian wall decoration or the theme of a contemporary worship song or an encouraging forearm tattoo, but what does it actually mean?

If we were talking about Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, I could understand. They won the championship. If we were talking about God’s love, I could understand even more. But if we’re just talking about love in general, as in the emotion or the motivation, I’m not sure I get it.

Is Paul saying that everything that is motivated by love will succeed? If so, what do we do with loving parents that struggle to raise their children, or loving pastors that struggle to build their churches, or loving spouses that struggle to hold their marriages together?

Thankfully, we don’t have to answer this question. It’s the wrong question.  Continue reading

Commanded to Love?

love
When we talk about love, we tend to imagine something warm and accepting, something with big smiles and open arms, like a mother or a grandmother or Big Bird with Snuffleupagus.

People don’t usually look at a football coach and think, ‘man, that guy loves me,’ even though he probably wants nothing more than to see his players mature and succeed. You would expect your mother to keep loving you even if you drop an easy catch in the end zone with the clock running out. The coach? Maybe not.     Continue reading

Soul Poison

Poison

About ten years ago, I was finishing up my morning Bible study, about to get ready for an important meeting, when God asked me to do something that I really really really didn’t want to do. If given the choice between this and a naked root canal in Antarctica, I’d take the NRCIA every time.

God gave me five names, five people that I felt had either wronged me or misunderstood me. He asked me to contact them, let them know how I was feeling, and tell them that I was sorry for harboring those feelings. In essence, he was asking me to forgive them, though no one was apologizing.

Three of the people were estranged from me, so I sent carefully-worded emails before getting out of bed. Two of them never responded, but the third responded reasonably well. The others were administrators at my school, the very people I was meeting with that afternoon.

What I didn’t know was that my superintendent was planning to fire me. Continue reading

Can I Just Be Me?

Family

Imagine a World War II vet coming back from Germany in 1945 to find himself in 2016. At first, the technology would probably make him think he was hundreds of years in the future, not just dozens, but once he got his bearings and started catching up on culture, he might find himself confused, frustrated and eager to find that portal back to sanity.

Yesterday I saw a video about a short white man interviewing college students at Washington State. He asked them how they would feel if he told them he was a woman. No one had a problem with it, kindly affirming his right to be who he felt that he was inside.

Then he started asking more questions: What if I told you I was Chinese? What if I said I was six-foot-three? What if I told you I was twelve? What if I wanted to enroll in the first grade?

The students were obviously uncomfortable with the questions, though they tried to be as accommodating as possible, claiming that they had no right to judge another person, that he could be anything he wanted to be. They ignored the witness of their own eyes, bending over backward to say the appropriate thing.

It makes sense. Yesterday, Curt Shilling was fired from ESPN for saying the inappropriate thing.

Imagine our time-travelling World War II vet taking classes at Washington State. While he was busy calling people queers and whores, they’d be busy calling him a narrow-minded bigot and shuffling him to the margins, and I would be commiserating with Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”    Continue reading

Love and War

love and war

Am I the only person that sees all the worms crawling out of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s can? What do we do with a Christian pastor plotting to assassinate a world leader?

My first instinct is to stand up and applaud. Put the hammer down, Dietrich! Burn those Nazis. Free the concentration camps. Show the world that Christians can do more than smile and give really good back rubs.

Justice is a human instinct. Everything in us resonates with the need for wrongs to be set right. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. That’s God’s law, and it is good. God’s people have always resonated with a need for justice and a frustration with its delay. Just read the Psalms.

But then there’s this other thing . . .  Continue reading

February 20th, 1995

City Lights

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the most important day of my life. I realize that I wouldn’t even have a life without August 8th, 1974, and I don’t want to minimize the importance of my spiritual rebirth in 1985, or my marriage in 1995, or when my children were born, or when the Giants won the World Series in 2010 after 56 years of— (yeah, I heard the record scratch too).

The story starts in 1992, during my senior year of high school. Continue reading

The Greatest of These

earthheart

If reality had a body, love would be its lifeblood. It flows in and through the divine heart, pulsing into every vein and artery of Creation, filling it with a promise of delight and contentment that can only be sensed in our most perfect moments, like a romantic adventure with our dearest love, or the iconic warmth of a Christmas morning.

Love can make sense of a Trinitarian God. It can correct and strengthen our theologies. It can unbend the wayward passions of our hearts. It can solve world hunger, establish world peace, stop human trafficking and abuse. It can unite and empower the people of God. It is our origin and our destiny.  Continue reading