2 Years ago today was my last blog. It is fair to say that much has changed. The break wasn’t intentional for a certain length of time but as time passed I sensed it wouldn’t be a short time. Why? I felt that although I was honest in all that I had blogged over the 4 years prior to the break, there was a growing sense that I couldn’t communicate all I was feeling about life, love, God, family, art, travel and more. But mostly about God and about love and about how they are synonymous.
So here is the letter I wrote myself yesterday and read to myself today. I think it encapsulates the past two years journey and will be a theme for me in the many new blogs to come (along with certain tomfoolery along the way.)
Dear Travis – is it possible to experience heaven here on earth when people act with love toward each other? To some degree, doesn’t hell exist here on earth too when people don’t act with love toward each other? Isn’t this why Jesus, when trying to explain hell, referred to an actual, physical place of misery called Gehenna? A place where children were sacrificed to gods. This explains why parents are literally in hell when told their child is dead because a troubled person entered a school wielding a weapon. It seems Jesus was interested in saving people from that hell through a strategy of love. Isn’t this what he meant when he said that he had a NEW command for us: Love. One. Another. He knew that love would create heaven – here – now. The NEW part of the command was what he meant by “one another.” Of course he meant to love our spouses, children, family, friends and those who shared the same race and religion…. but wasn’t that level of loving one another already accepted as truth in the Old Testament before Jesus came? What was the new part? Jesus meant for us to love all the groups of people who were very different, foreign and disagreeable to us. He meant for us to love people who worshipped differently from us. He meant for us to love other races just as we love our own. He meant for us to love the prostitute as much as we love the First Lady. He meant for us to love homosexuals as much as we love ourselves. This new world order was simple – love your neighbor as yourself. And this love isn’t just to those who are different but also to those who hate us. This means as Christians we have to flesh out what “love your enemies” looks like in 2015. Jesus knew that the exponential Joy that would come from humanity loving each other would far outweigh the sometimes overwhelming difficulty that would come to groups who had to be the first to love each other. For generations and generations our fathers and mothers of the Christian Faith had to be the first to love a new neighbor as themselves. The movie ‘Remember the Titans’ is all about this – white, Christian American teenagers being willing to love and be loved by a new neighbor – black, Christian American teenagers whose great-grandparents were slaves. We have had to learn how to love new neighbors such as women in the workplace, neighbors (literally) from other races, divorced adults at church and now homosexuals in every walk of life (including our churches.) The troubling part is why christians are often the last segment of society to love the new neighbor. Even now there are Christian Americans who will not love any of the above mention groups. But hope is not lost. Jesus did not give us these commands so that we would have rules to follow. He gave them to us because loving one another makes life more like heaven for generations to come. And this love is not just a generic statement of love but loving words and actions toward your homosexual workmate, the troubled soul you happen across, your political adversaries, and even that guy in the group that kills all your awesome conversations. Love like this actually changes things, real things, for the better, for eternity. It is truly the work given by Christ to all who would try to follow him. Even so, loving first is hard. There will be challenges when you are the first of your family, friends or church to love. But don’t we want heaven to come to earth as Jesus said? So I am committing to love more. Especially those hardest to love. I will even love the ones who who identify with my faith yet still refuse to love. Why? Because I know what I want the world to be like for my daughters and for their sons and my great-grandkids. I want a whole lot of heaven and love is the only way! Cue Hippie music. Happy New Year, Travis.