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On my drive to the mall today after work, I caught myself listening to a song. And I mean really listening to it, not just doing the usual halfhearted singing as I scream at drivers (thank God they can’t hear me, I’d have been a victim of road rage long ago). A giant trailer in the left lane decided to enter the space my car currently occupied as I was driving over a bridge. I was forced to slam on my brakes or hit the guy on my right, and I hissed in rage. But as I opened my mouth to let loose a barrage of insults, a song came on my radio that shut me up really quick.
If I sing but don’t have love, I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise.
If I speak with a silver tongue, convince a crowd, but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say.
If I give to a needy soul, but don’t have love, then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty is found in me.
When it’s all said and done, when we sing our final song
Only love remains… Only love remains.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love
I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all of His mysteries and making everything as plain as day…
And if I have faith to say to a mountain jump and it jumps, but I don’t love… I’m nothing.
If I give all I earn to the poor, or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love…
I’ve gotten nowhere.
So, no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
This is powerful to me, because it is true. How often do we see the people in the streets, holding up signs declaring other people to be sinners in need of repentance, in need of salvation? What if those who decry themselves as righteous are the ones in need of salvation? The Christian religion is based on love. Nothing more. Nothing less. Why are we failing so miserably? Is it that hard to love those like us? Do we think ourselves better than anyone else? Do we see in others what we hate the most in ourselves?
Does our faith give us the right to pickett abortion clinics, decry those that don’t live in the way we choose as damned to hell, and act as if we alone hold the keys to salvation? No. We have no right to judge people at all, and to assume so is to question the sovereignty of God. Our hearts have turned to stone and we have become unmerciful, unmoved, blind to the struggles and circumstances that make others the way they are. Just because we don’t recognize the way another person lives or find it as something that would be acceptable to ourselves doesn’t mean the divine is not working with them and through them. We scream at others to have faith when we are the ones without it.
We are as I was on that bridge today. My first reaction was not understanding, it was rage. How dare that driver risk my safety? How dare he not check his mirrors? Where did he get his driver’s license? Online?!? The nerve of him to even drive a car if he is that fucking stupid!
That driver probably never even saw me, but I was watching out for him and I was able to fix the situation without causing a wreck. I was not in any immediate danger because I was being attentive. I didn’t get hurt, I didn’t get scared… I failed at the thing I’m talking about right now.
We need to love. That is all we need to do in this world. The answer is so simple, beautiful, and natural. But it’s hard and it throws us out of our comfort zone. More than that, it smacks us in the face with the truth that we ourselves are far from perfect, and we never will be. But I dare all of you to go talk to another human being that lives a different lifestyle, who worships a different God, or no God at all, and I dare you to find absolutely nothing in common with them. Not one single person will ever win this dare. So love. Love everyone regardless of what they do, what they think, or how different they are from you.