We “just” have to love people…sorry, nobody “just” loves anybody
I distinctly remember sitting in the Church leadership meeting. It was a few years ago now just when our country was changing to legalize same-sex marriage. Some were more dismayed than others at the radical cultural shift it represented. The point of this reflection is not about that issue per se but how one friend responded. He said that we just had to love everybody. The assumption was he was speaking about gay people, and who could possibly disagree with that? He said it in such a way as to suggest that that was all there was to say about the matter. His motivation was of course noble but it left me wondering (and still wondering after all these years) what does it mean to just love anyone? Does it mean we accept them the way they come to us? Does it mean we affirm every aspect of their identity? Does it mean that we challenge them on their sin or that we never challenge them? The very definition of love – whose do we go with? I’m not answering these today. My point is that their is no such thing as just loving anybody. In fact, to truly love someone means opening up to all sorts of other questions. What is the content and nature of that love? And how do I do it?
I “just” believe the Bible…sorry, nobody “just” believes the Bible
This is not a slam on Sola Scriptura – that the Bible is the only ultimate authority for Christian truth and life – I believe in that with all my heart. It’s a challenge to people who claim Bible but then deny any other influence on their thinking. Nobody just reads the Bible alone, we read in with all who have gone before us. Truth is, if you come up with a ‘new’ interpretation of anything, you should start to worry about yourself. Interpretations that nobody has ever come with before are kookiness at best or heresy at worst. We don’t interpret the Bible on our own; we read it through the lens of many who’ve gone before us. Even if you’ve never heard of this guy, you are in his debt. Or all these dudes. Or this guy and this guy or, if you like, this guy or this guy. Or your junior high Sunday school teacher (sorry no hyperlink!). None of them are infallible, point is, we are not alone. There is 2,000 years behind us so the claim to “just” believe the Bible is usually just a cypher for hyper-individualism. It could even be a method of getting the Bible to say whatever you want. *Hint* It doesn’t say whatever you want *
I “just” follow Jesus…sorry, nobody “just” follows anybody – or – discipleship ain’t a solo mission
Someone who says they “just” follow Jesus might mean they’re putting Him first and trusting Him every step of the way. If that’s what you mean, hey, you’re a star! But sometimes when people say something like that they really mean that they’re going at it on their own; once again a cypher for hyper-individualism. We follow Jesus together – that is, in His Church, both the Church we can see every week and the historical one. One of the ways I know I’m following Jesus is that I’m around others doing the same. “Just” following Jesus might be a way to keep it simple but I’ve learned that real discipleship isn’t simple. That’s because it requires being with other disciples and nothing is messier at times than that!