As I was worshiping this morning my mind turned to people that are hard to love. That brought me to the glorious Biblical explanation of love found in I Corinthians 13. There is a reason it is called the Love Chapter. There is also a reason why our culture ignores what it teaches. One of the verses forced itself through my self deception to strike a blow for agape.
(1Co 13:4 KJV) Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,Charity does not mean donating to the Salvation Army at Christmas. It is translated “love” in the modern translations and represents the Greek word agape. That wasn’t my point, just a bit of background if you don’t get to church much.
I like the KJV translation in the sense that it uses the phrase “suffereth long”. Modern translations translate this as “patient” which it is, but it doesn’t get the way in which love is involved. The Greek word, if you need to know it or even if you don’t, is makrothumeo. It has two parts. The first is makro. We are familiar with this in English where macro is contrasted to micro. It means big or long. Whatever it is that love does it doesn’t do it small.
The second part is thumeo which has the idea of passion. This is where we get the idea of calling the suffering Jesus went through before and during the crucifixion His passion. It has the idea of fierceness, indignation and wrath. It is not easy or pleasant.
Put aside the idea that the patience of love is lounging at the coffee shop, sipping your favorite version of coffee and waiting for your wife to show up for dinner. It is not sitting with a benign look on your face and being nice for a few moments. Love being patient means that it endures through a lot of long hard times. It is the reason why genuine love is so necessary for marriage and raising children. It endures.
As Christians we are called to love our enemies. That is totally incongruous with the popular ideas of love that you find in the card section of the store. It has nothing to do with romance or warm fuzzies. It involves the long haul where you want the best for the other person. It doesn’t matter what they have done to you. In our present case “long” means at least four years.
How does this relate to us today? We are hearing the man installed as president call for unity and then turn around and condemn us to reeducation camps. Our job is to love him and his supporters. It will not be easy. It will not be what we want to do. At the same time that does not mean that we become door mats. It does not mean that we line up for the box cars. Love does what is best for them and for the country. That is where the decisions get hard. We cannot just sit back, smile and say, “Step on me again.”
No one said it would be easy.
homo unius libri