If love can’t be found among God’s people – where can it be found? In the gospels and letters, Christians are admonished over and over to love one another and our neighbors. Love is our identity. It is how we are recognized as followers of Jesus. It is the badge that marks us as Christians. It is the quality that sets us apart from the dog-eat-dog culture of materialism and greed.
What an unmitigated tragedy when the lack of love is noted among congregations of self-proclaimed Christians! It is so contrary to what we should be that it even occasionally makes the news. Most of the time, however, it is merely observed and noted. The results are ugly. People are driven away from such hypocrisy. I am always reminded of what Gandhi, who lived and died a Hindu, had to say about the Christians he observed, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Yes, some unfriendly observers may be looking for something wrong – but we make it too easy for them. Lovelessness is always starkly obvious and always a source of ammunition for those who oppose any form of faith.
Recently one such unfriendly website chronicled the story of a young couple who dared to question leaders of their church about the expenditure of funds (to which they had contributed) and the lifestyle of some of the leaders (who lived off these funds). If their account is credible, they became the object of scorn, anger and denigration. Ultimately expelled from their church, their faith took a fatal hit and they are no longer practicing believers.
I really can’t verify this account but it is too much like some of my personal experiences and stories from others over the years to reject out of hand. And, if true, what a repudiation of the love we should embrace and practice! We have handed a gun to Satan and asked to be shot. We have presented a sword to our adversaries and asked to be run through. Truly, we are our own worst enemy.
I repeat: if love cannot be found among the people who purport to believe their God is the personification of love, where will it be found? No matter how wonderful we think we are, without love we are nothing.
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questioning
Where is the love?
—Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the Love?”