Sunday, July 8, 2012

Love is Something We Gotta Do--Seriously

Weary of discord, Mark Twain wrote, “So I built a cage, and in it I put a dog and a cat. And after a little training I got the dog and the cat to the point where they lived peaceably together. Then I introduced a pig, a goat, a kangaroo, some birds, and a monkey. And after a few adjustments, they learned to live in harmony together. So encouraged was I by such successes that I added an Irish Catholic,  a Presbyterian, a Jew, a Muslim from Turkestan, and a Buddhist from China, along with a Baptist missionary that I captured on the same trip. And in a very short while there wasn't a single living thing in the cage!"

The picture above is the back of a Tee shirt. My wife went to Louisville last week and the only thing she brought me back was this lousy Tee Shirt. Well, not really lousy. I love it. Not only does it create a lot of attention—but I also think it is one of the neatest ideas I have heard lately.  

Pablo Casals once said that “the love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”  Jesus knew us better than we know ourselves when he said Love your neighbor. Like us, they wanted him to qualify that statement. “Jesus, exactly who is my neighbor?” They thought he would say Jews or the people of their own kind. Jesus would never let love stop at any border. And that’s the task of the Christian today—maybe every day and every age. 

We all know loving is a whole lot better written about than done. And we all have people that drive us up the wall. Sometimes it’s Obama and sometimes it is Mitt Romney. Sometimes it’s Muslims or Scientologists or  Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi. It may even be Auburn if you are an Alabama fan. And if you live in South Carolina you can’t love the Clemson Tigers and the Carolina Gamecocks. You got to pick and choose. And—if you went to college at a small Baptist school surely you know that those people at Harvard really are pointy-headed and elitist. And we haven’t even begun to talk about all these Hispanics that are supposedly ruining a perfectly good country. 

Jesus knew we wouldn’t feel warm and squishy with everyone—that’s sentimentality at best. When Jesus said love your neighbor I think he was talking about doing right by everyone, making sure that everyone was in the circle, no demonizing, no looking down one’s nose, no us and them or we and they. We’re it. And—we’ve got to get along or we are going to find ourselves just like those people in the cage that Mark Twain talked about.  

Jesus got into big trouble because he never stopped at the border.  I keep thinking of those 50 million without health care. How hard it must be for them to sleep at night. I keep thinking about Mr. Romney when people sneer at him because he is rich and vacations at a  place that would not let us in the front door. And my blood pressure goes up (and I close the borders, folks) when people start talking about how Mr. Obama must be a Muslim or some kind of a secret spy from outer space or Kenya. We’ve got to turn down the temperature in this country or we are all going to burn up.  

Start small. Lord knows we all have family members it is hard to love. Look down your street at someone down right peculiar and difficult. Branch out. Your homework and mine may be a little different—but Jesus said we have to love. It really is something we do. Whether we feel all warm and palpitating hardly matters. It does matter how big our borders are. Maybe that’s the acid test. Well—enough of my rantings—I think I’ll go try on my new Tee Shirt and walk down the street and see what happens. Maybe I’ll meet that peculiar neighbor and change my ways difficult though it probably will be.

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