Abiding in Love
By Commissioner Peter H. Chang
Have you ever been in love? I hope you have and, if so, you know that true love is not blind, but visionary. Often, when officiating at a wedding service, I am moved by the thought that for the two people standing before me, through the love they have for one another, they probably have discovered things in each other that even their own parents have not known.
That’s something like what God’s love in Christ does for each of us: it celebrates our absolute uniqueness and it confirms our individuality–which is why such violence is done to God’s nature and our own whenever we follow the herd like some unthinking beast. We are made to be different and to love and to appreciate it. The beauty of love is that when hearts are one, nothing else has to be one and nothing else should be one.
God’s love not only discovers and daily rediscovers our individuality; it creates and daily recreates our value. One cannot say it enough: it is not because we have value that we are loved, but because we are loved that we have value. If you’ve ever been in love [and I hope you are still] you have been on “cloud nine.” But you didn’t get there by climbing a ladder, painful rung by painful rung. No, you got there by levitation, by being borne aloft on the love of the one who loves you, who in turn, thanks to your love, is walking “on air.” So it is with God, thanks to whose love our value is a gift, not an achievement. We don’t have to prove ourselves, because God has taken care of that; we have only to express the unique and loving self that God has made us and meant everyone of us uniquely to be.
The point is made: the Incarnation–that is, God’s love coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ–has altogether as much to say about what we are to become as it does about what God became. God became the child of Mary that we might become children of God.
The Bible is nothing if not realistic. Don’t we know it! “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth.” . . . “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” “They who dwell in the valley of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Had we pursued further the first chapter of John we would have heard truly poignant words: “He came unto his own and his own received him not.”
Many these days think we’re standing tall, but, I ask you, how can we Americans feel proud when 15 percent of us are “officially” poor but when probably 40 million of us are actually poor and when half the young African-American people in our cities are without employment? To make matters still more contrary to the Christmas spirit, the President now proposes to reduce the deficit by harming still further those least able to defend themselves, by cutting further aid programs already cut.
So in the name of God, whose name is love, Christians must once again plead the cause of the needy, become lobbyists for the politically weakest in the land, and remind the nation of the plight of the indigent elderly, the handicapped and the many, many children of poverty-stricken families.
It’s strange, isn’t it? Most industrialized nations of the world like Sweden, like Japan, like West Germany, take civilized care of their widows and orphans. Our country could, but doesn’t.
How are we going to do justice to the light until we appreciate the depth of the darkness? “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.”
I believe that. Hallelujah! I believe that “the light shines in the darkness” and that even the darkness that covers this land will never put out that light. I believe all this because I believe the Incarnation can change us. Christ born anew in our hearts can address the intelligent selfless person who dwells in each of us, that self so rarely addressed by our leaders.
We know of what Christmas reminds us, that God’s love is for everyone, none excluded. “We need to be telling the message far and wide, from here to there, so that all are told with none excluded. We do it for Love’s sake: for God is Love.”