Sunday, April 09, 2006

"Love Your Neighbor"

I spent the weekend in upstate New York at a church that is working to develop its policies on keeping children safe for sexual abuse. This morning, I offered the sermon on "Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing."

A woman approached me at coffee hour and said, "I don't agree with some of what you said." Now, given that I had preached about sexuality and religion, I wasn't surprised. "What didn't you agree with?" I asked.

But she surprised me when she responded, "That part about love your neighbor. Maybe we should talk about tolerate your neighbor. But some people don't deserve to be loved." Now, I am thinking that she meant terrorists, suicide bombers, murderers, pedophiles...So, I responded, "It sounds like you are wondering how we could extend this love to people who are evil." And to my surprise, she answered, "I was thinking about people in my life, including some people here, who I can barely tolerate no less think about loving. Some people don't deserve to be loved."

I repeated something that I had said in the sermon. The hardest part about "Love your neighbor as yourself" is that part about loving ourselves, offering ourselves the same unconditional love and regard that we try to offer others. And told her that the people who are hardest for us to love may be the ones who need it most.

Like her at that moment.

I closed my sermon today with this quote from Hafiz about unconditional love. "Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, 'you owe me'....a love like that can light the world."

1 comment:

BronxBarbie said...

Very interesting experience; I've often thought similarly in that "I can love you at a distance because you are trying to serve God like me" - but I don't have to be your buddy or pal as of yet!

But 1 Corinthians 13 also says "love is long suffering... and bears good and sees good" amongst other things. And it never fails!

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