Leading with Love


Read 1 John 4:7-21

As Christians we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves as an expression of our love for God. If we hope to live these commandments that Jesus named as the “greatest,” then we cannot approach the time in which we are living with preconceptions, presumptions, and conspiracies about the lives and circumstances being made known to us day by day. Christians must lead with love, which always seeks the welfare of those around us, which always seeks to understand others before we seek to be understood ourselves, so that we may, like Jesus, be with others in their pain and see the divine spark alight within them as within ourselves.

In the letter of 1 John, we have it told to us plainly: “We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, I love God, and hates a brother or sister, he or she is a liar, because the person who doesn’t love a brother or sister who can be seen cannot love God, who cannot be seen.”

So often these days we subscribe to a phenomenon known as “confirmation bias,” in which an opinion or idea becomes so dearly held that we cease to entertain the idea that our opinion or idea could be wrong. Or, we cease to understand that we may have something to learn and to grow toward from the experiences and insight of another. Confirmation bias causes us to seek only those sources of information which confirm what we already think or believe. Doubling down because you want to be right does not make you right, but rather betrays the weakness of our willingness to love through the receiving of someone’s story, both their pain and their hope.

The Greek word mathetes, which we translate as “disciple,” most closely means “learner,” or one who takes on the life and teachings of another. For us that is Jesus. As people taking on the life of Jesus, we profess a faith that seeks understanding, which thrives on wisdom, and that practices compassionate discernment when face-to-face with another person for whom Christ has died. Without these tools we navel-gaze and become angry, opinionated, and unable to relate to others in the way that Jesus calls us to: with love, peace, and the challenge of the Gospel.

As Christians, we’re not called to operate by presumption or merely to confirm opinions we already hold dear about an issue or situation or people who look, think, or believe differently than we do. As followers of Jesus our faith implores us to seek understanding, to relate to others in a posture of compassion. That does not mean right and wrong, truth and lie, ethical and unethical are ambiguous. The lie must be called a lie, and injustice must be decried as such. But true conversion can only happen when we let love lead us into the life of another. And besides, sometimes it is not others who need to change their thoughts and ways, but ourselves.

Leading with love and listening, we become privileged to the lived experiences of others, and open ourselves to empathy. From a starting point of love, we leave space — and God uses that space to create an openness — so that we and our analogues might experience a change of heart and behold each other with a sense of compassion and understanding, rather than blame and disbelief. May we lead with love, and may we view people first in light of what they suffer, so that we may love God by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Patrick


Last Published: November 30, 2020 9:56 AM
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