“Love Without Conditions” May 10, 2020
“Love Without Conditions”
“Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” ~ G. K. Chesterton
“The difference between the poet and the mathematician is that the poet tries to get his head into heaven,
while the mathematician tries to get the heavens into his head.” ~ K. Chesterton
I found a little chuckle that, in a roundabout way, really hits home to those of us who are getting tired of being at home. It seems that the visiting pastor was trying to have a conversation with a child while her mother was in the kitchen preparing the tea and cookies that would add even more pounds to his mid-section.
Not really knowing what to say, the preacher asked, “So tell me, what does your mother do for you when you’ve been a good girl?”
The little girl didn’t bat an eye. “I get to stay home from church,” she said.
See what I mean? It’s hard to imagine we would ever find ourselves considering “staying at home” to be a punishment, but here we are. The upside is that when the time does come that we are no longer “staying home from Church” we are bound to have a new found appreciation for our places of worship. God speed that that day arrives.
The 14th chapter of the Gospel of John – I have to say, I don’t know where to begin. There is so much packed into this wonderful piece: “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” “My Father’s house has room to spare.” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (One of the ‘I Am’ statements) “When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” This is like hitting the jackpot. There is a great sermon in every one of these little gems. But to be honest with you all, I’m just not feeling it. What I mean is, the more times that I have read through this marvelous text, the more irritable I seemed to get. At first I chalked it up to lack of sleep and aching joints. But I finally came to realize the source of my discontent: the disciples were getting on my nerves.
(Jn 14:3) Jesus tells his disciples, When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.” And rather than rejoice and give thanks, it is Thomas who says, Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” to which Jesus replies that he is “the way and the truth and the life.” What follows next is truly the crux of our faith; a truth we hold most dear. The 2nd part of vs. 6 reads: No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him. But evidently that’s not good enough, because it is Philip who pipes up now, saying, Lord, show us the Father; that will be good enough. Show us the Father? Really? I mean, come on – what do you think Jesus has been “showing” you for the past 3 years?
So, yeah, the disciples were getting on my nerves. Sure, they were raised in the Jewish faith and they had some definite ideas about who God was; about what he was like. They couldn’t help themselves. They needed road maps, they needed details, they needed answers to their questions. After all, they knew all about the God of Abraham. It had been taught to them from birth. They couldn’t help themselves not to recognize that the answer stood right there in front of them. They couldn’t help it, right? I guess not; but it was getting on my nerves. Meanwhile, the words of Christ were echoing in my head: “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” Good news; good news, indeed.
And so, for this the 5th Sunday of the Eastertide season let us rejoice in the Good News. Let’s rejoice that there is room to spare in the heavenly Kingdom. Let’s rejoice that the Lord Jesus Christ has prepared a place for us – yes, even us. Let us rejoice in the simple truth that if we really know Christ – if we walk with him always, talk with him always; live in his word and love with a Christly heart – let us rejoice that (1 Peter 2:9) we are a chosen people, a royal priesthood; a people who are God’s possessions. Let us rejoice in the good news.
You know, sometimes we have to stop trying to figure it all out and just kick back and enjoy it. It took me a long time to get my head wrapped around the idea of the unconditional love of God. That I could be loved without condition just seemed impossible. I mean, everything has conditions, right? Give and take, tit for tat, cause and effect – that’s how life works. But here’s the thing: we are approaching our 3rd month as a people whose lives have been altered by the presence of a nasty virus. We can’t negotiate with this thing and we can’t retaliate against this thing. What we can do is what this world needs the most; what we can do is to love without condition. What we can do is continue to be the Christ in this world. It’s hard to say how this whole thing will play out. In the meantime, we get to stay home from church. In the meantime, what we can do is to be the church.
Amen & Shalom