6/23/19 – Love is our God. Compassion is our Religion.

Posted on : Jun 20th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

As a member of the Christian left (like South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg), I am dismayed that the loud, obnoxious mean-spirited and bigoted views of the fundamentalists have come to represent Christianity.  They have completely distorted the teaching of Jesus Christ, turning his message of love, compassion and generosity upside down.  In the recorded gospels, he never once mentioned homosexuality.  But he frequently spoke about the need to assist the poor, the stranger, the marginalized.   

Fundamentalist Christians’ emphasis on protecting the fetus is merely one example of their gross distortion of Christianity.  While my home state of Alabama has just adopted a law that will force a 12-year old incest victim to bear the progeny of her familial rape – hardly an example of the compassion explicit in Christ’s teachings – it gives a sharp stick-in-the-eye to children once they emerge from the womb.   

In national rankings, Alabama comes in 44th (sixth from the bottom) in child mortality.  It ranks 49th in infant mortality and 26 percent of its children live in poverty.

Cynthia Tucker, the author of those thoughts, is a Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist.  They are from her column, “Twisting Scripture for bad ends.” She also is a lay person and a proud Progressive Christian.

Today in Christianity, we have a huge problem.  We have far more Christians practicing hate than love.  I don’t think we Christians do this knowingly.  I think the problem is most of us don’t know what love is and therefore have a difficult time practicing it. 

The whole of Jesus’ ministry is one of reaching out to others in love.  Nobody around him gets it.  They are quite like us.  They were raised in traditions that allowed religion to abuse people based on custom, tradition, doctrine or belief.  But then Jesus comes along and challenges that abuse by reaching out to others in love, even when it violated the laws and traditions of religion.

The way Jesus seems to cross the barrier from abusive religion to loving religion is through compassion.  Jesus is always compassionate. He listens to the other person, cares for them and heals them.  He also still listens to us, cares for us and heals us. 

One of the most important beliefs of Progressive Christians is “Love is our God. Compassion is our religion.”  The writer of the first letter of John, put those words together for us in such simple prose but with such profound meaning.  He wrote: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God.  Those who do not love, do not know God; for God is LOVE.” 

There we have it!  Plain and simple, but profoundly difficult.  This Sunday we’re going to focus on how compassion helps us to learn to be more loving; and, why we as Progressive Christians value love over all values.  Love is our God! 

Blessings,

Dan

1 John 4: 7-12; 18-21

In this simple, yet difficult teaching, the writer of the first letter of John challenges the people of the first century Church who were severely “beaten up and abused” to know that God is not a God of vengeance, but of Love.

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God.  Those who do not love, do not know God; for God is LOVE.  In this the Love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent Christ Jesus into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent Christ Jesus to forgive our sin.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; yet if we love one another, God abides in us and God’s love is perfected in us.

There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in Love.  We love, because God first loved us.  If anyone says, “I Love God,” and hates another person, that person is a liar; for those who do not love other persons whom they know and can see, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.  And this commandment we have from God, that those who love God should also love all other persons of this world, those who are our brothers and sisters of the world community.

 

 

 

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