1 Peter 1:22-23 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. (NRSV)
Here’s the key to living the Christian life. This love is what it’s all about. Sure, we can add more to the list of things we do (or don’t do) because we’re Christians. I know groups of Christians who, because of their faith, avoid liquor, or dancing, or card playing. Some people insist on family dinner, or refuse to shop on Sunday. But all of us, no matter what else, insist that the cornerstone of our faith is the call to love one another deeply from the heart. Or, as scholar and Presbyterian pastor Eugene Peterson translated it: Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it.
It regularly happens that people suggest we Christians get too involved with politics. Here, however, you can see why we do it. We took political action to stop child labor because we were called to love one another as if our lives depended on it. We took political action to end slavery because we were called to love. We take political action to bring better health care to the poor because it’s what God wants us to do. This love isn’t just love for those we know. Loving people we know is much easier, but Christ calls us to love the stranger, to welcome the newcomer – and to love them as if our lives depended on it. Today, in the daily news, we have the proof positive that our lives do depend on loving our neighbors as ourselves.
It’s not easy to love strangers. Strangers aren’t like “us”. They dress differently, perhaps. Their music is different. Their food is different. Their language is different. They are different. And yet, they are as loved by God as we, and our lives, familiar or different, depend on us living out that inclusive and extravagant love
For today, spend some time envisioning in your mind just one group of different people – think about and pray for those who work in our nation’s meat-packing plants. It’s hard, dirty, stinky work. It’s not safe, it’s not easy, and today those plants are riddled with coronavirus. Many plants have shut down; the President has ordered them to re-open, without any changes in how they operate to make them safer. Picture yourself in the place of those workers – you have to work or you won’t have money to buy your own food, but it’s not safe to work. And pray for them, that they may have health, and safety – that they may live through this pandemic. For God calls us to love one another as if our lives depend on it.
Easter blessings, Pastor Virginia