One of the texts of today is 1 Thessalonians 4: 1-12. I was caught by the these verses and they were most easily understood when I read how Eugene Peterson translated them in the message.
Regarding life together and getting along with each other, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. You’re God-taught in these matters.
Just love one another! You’re already good at it; your friends all over the province of Macedonia are the evidence. Keep it up; get better and better at it.
1Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.
Just love one another - he writes and the truth is that we have so much trouble just loving each other. This morning for some reason I started thinking about a sermon I heard in seminary that I never forgot. The message was that we live in a "If - then" world and God is calling us to a "Since - therefore" faith.
Let me translate that! The if then world is all about cause and effect, and often control and manipulation. We say - if you study and do well on tests - you will get good grades. If you work hard, you will get rewarded. The problem is that we attach that to our relationship with God and with each other. which means that we love each other - but conditionally with an IF attached. This God taught loving is loving with NO IF's - in other words - unconditional.
What I know for sure is that we cannot practice this unconditional love of others until we know - in the very deepest core of ourselves - the unconditional love of God. God who knows us better than we know ourselves and always is loving us. THEN we can move into "Since - therefore" - which is: Since God loves me just as I am. therefore, I will love you just as you are.
What I also know for sure is that this is only possible for mature, healthy people . I have been reading - slowly - a book by Bill Plotkiin called Wild Mind and he refers to the "nurturing generative adult." Here is a quote from the book explaining:
"To nurture is to care for the well-being of other humans, our fellow creatures, earthly inhabitants and ourselves. To be generative is to design and implement innovative cultural practices that imaginatively and effectively restore, solve, or shelter, that truly serve the whole person and the web of life. To be an adult in this sense, is to enthusiastically and competently embrace opportunities to enhance the vitality of beings, places, and communities, present and future - and where you don't find such opportunities, to creatively generate them."
So, we easily read words - "Just love one another!" and nod our heads like it is easy. But my experience still is that I know how easy it is to fall into unconscious, reactive, transactional behavior with people instead of just loving and accepting everyone just as they are in this moment.
As I write this tonight I see Anderson Cooper interviewing two parents who lost their daughter in the fire in Oakland. And all they want is to share the beauty of this soul that they lost in that tragic event. May we all love in such a way that we look for the beauty of each soul. just as we are.