25. Christians should be taught that faith is both an internal and external commitment to love.
The fundamental character of faith is love.
Some of us talk about love and we often try to express love, but we rarely equate faith with love. We see love as living out our faith.
Or we like to say that our faith inspires our love.
But this undersells the importance of love to the faith itself. As if faith can be isolated from love. As if we can talk about faith abstractly, intellectually, like a puzzle to solve without love.
That we can actually talk about faith without love.
Love is fundamental.
We all remember the first of the ten commandments is to love God.
And we also remember what Jesus said when he was asked what the greatest commandment is
‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’
At the heart of it all, is this orientation. Love God.
It isn’t believe in God as an abstract concept, but love God.
And this orientation of love is always a co-commitment of relationship, what I’m presently calling a “withness“. An active and vibrant connection between us and God.
And the whole time, God has been compelling us to see that commitment to loving God reflected out as a commitment to loving our community. Protecting and sharing and teaching and being with one another in a radical, Jubilee-inspired community of blessing and love.
And Jesus radically embodies that commitment to love in community. Going so far as to saying loving God and loving neighbor are linked, fundamental acts of devotion from which all the rest hangs.
Internal and External
The challenge of love in the 21st Century is that we can pretend that individuals can exist without community, or that theories can exist without actions or that love can exist without other persons. We pretend that our postmodern world doesn’t need us to actually live like we have any faith at all.
And this word, commitment is so important because it ties the foundation to the future and our faith in God to our love of all creation. For commitments aren’t just about following rules, but embodying our faith and love. We don’t just make a commitment to a spouse in marriage to not leave them; we commit to loving them, protecting them, and being with them for as many days as we are given.
Christians do this internally and externally, by faith from our hearts and in the faith expressed by our mouths and hands and lives.
Christians love. On the inside and the outside.
[This is Thesis #25 of my 31 Theses. To read them all, visit the 31 Theses introduction page.]