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HateIsEasy“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 34-35 NRSV)

 

 

Can you imagine what it might look like?  Try really hard!

Often as an adult, I lament the disappearance of my imagination.  I hear children running around outside my home and playing, and I admit that my first reaction is usually: “Are they just selecting random times at which to scream as loudly as possible?”  But then every once in awhile my mind leaves that “Get off my lawn” state and thinks about another question:

Where did my imagination go?

I remember when I was a kid my imagination ran wild.  I had no problem constructing elaborate play pieces in my head centered around some movie or cartoon, or perhaps something totally original.  For hours my friends and I could get lost in the imaginative constructs of our minds.

But now….now what?  As adults we are so “pressed in upon” by the events of our everyday lives and the world around us.  The news is full of things that we would never really want to let our imagination spend so much time on.  Our lives, or at least my life, can sometimes seem like it’s just one piece of bad news after another.

It’s depressing, isn’t it?

Murder. Racism.  Rape. Violence.  War. Terror. Politics….

Anyone living in modern America gets the point by now.

But I want to ask you, and ask myself, something: Can you imagine something different?  Do you dare?

Can you imagine what it might look like? Try really hard!

Can you imagine what a world based on something besides violence, politics, competition, and the other things listed above might look like?

Can you imagine what a world might look like where the first instinct of the human race was not to judge others in their differences, but to love others in their commonalities?

I know, I’m asking for a tall order here.  Ever since Adam and Eve in the Garden, if you choose to believe that particular origin story, we have made mistakes.  We have tasted the bitter fruit of the tree and functioned in a way that leads us to judge each other, and ourselves, by the differences between us.  I’m a Christian, you’re not.  I’m straight, you’re gay.  I’m a man, you’re a woman.  I’m white, but you’re black.

And of course the evil that is latent in all of this is that we perceive the quality of “the other” to be inferior to the quality of “us.”  We use our formidable powers of imagination and construct huge systems of belief, even “divine commands” that cement the thought that “you are inferior to me” and that the blood in our veins, the DNA in our cells, and the dreams in our minds aren’t all the same, but very different.

It is, of course, a lie.  One of the most destructive lies in history.  A lie straight out of the mouth of the Serpent, of the Accuser, again if you choose to believe in such things.

Yet 2000 years ago something very different happened.  An ordinary man, a carpenter from a small town called Nazareth, knelt at the feet of his friends and washed their feet. On the surface this might seem odd enough, but what if, just WHAT IF that man really was God in revealed in humanity….

Can you imagine what it might look like? Try really hard!

Think of it.  This being, this One present at the beginning and end of all things, was there washing the feet of ordinary fishermen, of tax collectors, of his best friend that would later deny he even knew him, of the one who would betray him to his death in just a few hours……

And you don’t want to bake a cake for a gay couple.

Let that image, that thought brew in your mind and challenge you. Please, do it.

Maybe you don’t have a problem with gay people, but somewhere in the darkest recesses of your mind and soul there is something.  Something you hate, something you wield as a mighty saber with which to judge and cut down the “other,” the “inferior.”

After the man from Nazareth finished washing the feet of his friends he sat down to dinner with them and told them the words listed above,  “I’m giving you a new rule to live by.  Not a suggestion, but a hard and fast truth.  Love each other, love everyone in the same way that I have demonstrated my love for you. If you do this, if you show this kind of love, that is how people around you will know that you truly follow me.”

That probably gave this man’s friends something to think about as they ate.  This man who they believed to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, had just washed their feet.  John tells us that it made Peter uneasy at least, and I’m sure he was not the only one.

But I wonder…maybe it didn’t dawn on these guys until the next evening, when the man who washed their feet hung on a cross.

Maybe it didn’t dawn on them until three days later, when somehow, defying even their wildest imagination, this man, their friend, appeared to them with the holes in his wrists and feet to prove that love.

What had he done, what had he gone through for them?  How much did he love them, and how were they to exhibit that love to others?

What might a world be like that was based on those words: “Love others the way I have loved you.” Instead of “Toss and climb over others to get ahead,” or “I can’t love you because you’re not like me.” Some even say ” I cannot love you, because all I want is me!”

I wonder….

Can you imagine what it might look like? Try really hard!

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