The series we just finished examined John’s ethic of love as a guide for how our church might understand itself. John’s ethic of love is aimed largely in toward the community from which the Gospel arose. Although John’s scope is the world (“so that the world may believe,” John 17:21), it intends to draw the world in (“come and see,” John 4:29) rather than pushing outward as Matthew (“make disciples of all nations,” Matthew 28:19) would have us do. And, although I believe we are a Johannine church, both John and we are a part of a much larger tradition. We also live in the world, a world that God loves so much (John 3:16). Our next series, then, continues with the proposal that John is our canon within a canon, the filter through which we might understand the rest of our text and tradition. We will begin to reacquaint ourselves with the broader canon, read through John’s ethic of love.
This may seem easy. “God is love” is a cliché. Interestingly, people tend to say it only when they move away from the Church. When people are asked what they think of Christians, they overwhelmingly see us as judgmental and bigoted. In order to believe that “God is love,” it seems they must get away from Christians, become “spiritual, but not religious.” It breaks my heart.
It breaks my heart because, in part, they are right. The loudest voices, the squeakiest wheels in the Church are voices of fear and judgment. And, as we look at our text and tradition, it is not hard to find support for all manner of evil, from domestic violence and homophobia, to slavery and genocide. But it also breaks my heart because there is also, always, a counter-tradition, a thread of love that runs through it all. We’re going to pull that thread and see what comes apart.
I think it’s time for Church in the Cliff to speak up. To get loud. So, while this series will be an examination of our text and tradition, I also want it to have results. What are we going to do? How do we reveal God to the world? The world cries out for love and those cries are louder than the squeaky wheels of judgment and fear. We can respond to those cries. We can harmonize with the world’s longing. We are few and our resources are limited, but, if we find the right resonance, we can tear down the structures of power that feed on fear.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at the Kessler, as we talk about power and how it might be undone by love.
Grace and Peace,