We are called to love others without condition

Published 10:41 pm Monday, November 16, 2015

By JACK ALVEY | St. Paul’s Episcopal Church rector

In light of this weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris, I engaged in a few conversations that named how so much blood shed has come in the name of “religion.”

But the problem isn’t religion. It’s the selfish-ambition of human hearts.

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On Sunday at St. Paul’s we read Mark 13:1-8. In this passage, Jesus warns the disciples of how the selfish ambition of human hearts can distort the true purpose of religion.

Jesus warns them how some will lead others astray from the true aim of the good news of God’s love.

Jesus predicts that the selfish ambition of human hearts will cause war and rumors of war. But Jesus also says, “Do not be alarmed.” One must wonder, how can Jesus say, “Do not be alarmed” when the entire world is about to fall apart?

What if Jesus were to stand in the streets of Paris and say, “Do not be alarmed?”

Friends, as a preacher of God’s word, I am convicted to say that Jesus does stand in Paris and in the middle of all other chaos to say to his beloved, “Do not be alarmed.”

Jesus does not offer these words as a platitude, but he offers these words with authority.

Jesus knows intimately well the evil and destruction of this world.

Jesus knows very well the kind of terror that selfish ambition can wage on this world. After all, Jesus was put to death on a cross because the self-ambition of all humanity put him there.

Jesus also knows that no amount of evil or suffering can separate us from the unending love of God. And Jesus literally shows us the enduring truth of God’s love when he defeats death and the grave on the third day.

Through death and resurrection, God in Christ shows us the true gift of Christianity.

Above all else, Christianity gives us the gift of perseverance, the gift of endurance, the gift to know that even when hell does its worst, we can find the hope to believe Jesus when he says, “Do not be alarmed.” Even the middle of the worst, Jesus stands to remind us that love is stronger than hate.

So what does this mean for Christians in Selma today? We are called to love our enemies even more fiercely in our daily lives right here in Alabama.

After all, this is exactly what Jesus did for all of us when he gave his life for the life of the world. This is the kind of faith we are given in Christ — to love others without condition.

We share the love of God in a faith that believes that love is the only power that can transform the selfish-ambition of the human heart — even your heart.

As Christians, we love to the point where people wonder if we are crazy, to the point when others ask, “Why are you showing love to the undeserving?” And as Christians, our response is, “because God endlessly pursues me with his love too.”