Make Love Your Aim — text, no images

‘Make love your aim’: Paul’s words matter
Nathan Day Wilson

I can remember the exact place and time when I realized that “cogito, ergo sum” — that is, “I think, therefore I am” — was less important than “amo, ergo sum” — that is, “I love, therefore I am.”
I was a student at the Ecumenical Graduate Institute at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. I was nominated by my 51 classmates from 32 different countries to preach at a worship we were to lead at the Ecumenical Centre.
The student selected to be the worship leader, with whom I was to plan all the non-musical components of the worship service, was a woman from Rwanda named Mary. Mary is a physician who was educated and trained by the Red Cross. Mary and I developed an important and close friendship working together on this worship, the focus of which was reconciliation.
I put considerable thought and study into the issue of reconciliation. I interrogated the Bible. I investigated the historic examples of times that restitution necessarily accompanied reconciliation. I inspected the nuances that led some to seek retribution and reject reconciliation.
In short, I gave this topic and this worship a lot of thought.
When Mary and I met one afternoon, I told Mary what I learned and she listened very politely. We engaged in conversation, found points of agreement and points of difference, and then Mary asked, quietly, if she could share something with me. I said, “sure.”
During the civil war in Rwanda, Mary was serving as a new physician with
the Red Cross. During the war, two of Mary’s children, her husband, both of her parents, and two siblings were killed by the opposing tribe. But since Mary was a physician sanctioned by the Red Cross, she had to provide care for any injured person, even when she knew that this person was from the tribe that murdered her family.
She said to me, “Nathan, I had to trust in God’s reconciling power. I had to give God’s love all the room in my heart, and save nothing for hate. I had to. Otherwise, I could not live with myself.”
That’s when I realized that it’s not thinking that gives us meaning, it is loving.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for sound thinking. In fact, I would argue that love allows for better thinking.
But as Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians, “If I can fathom all mysteries and have all knowledge but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
For those of us who profess to follow Christ, Paul suggests that our incorporation into the risen Christ is not merely a union of our person with his. Rather, it includes something much bigger: Union with Christ is necessarily becoming a participant in a newly created order where the old has gone and the new has come.
To be “in Christ” means that the new creation God effected in Christ is reenacted within us. He writes, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. “
Clearly being part of this new creation includes personal transformation. All our beings — our thoughts, our attitudes, our outlook, our priorities, our concerns, our actions — begin to be made over. Accustomed as we are tothinking that personal transformation resultsfrom our own capacity to improve ourselves,Paul issues the stern reminder that the newcreation is not our own doing! God is the primary mover.
And finally, this transformation allows us no longer to be alienated from one another — split by a wall of hostility — but thanks to God’s actions, to be reconciled to each other. We begin to experience ourselves as free and forgiven and then know others to be the same.
In a time like now, so divided by allegiance to false gods such as money and power, by acts of lovelessness and hatred, and by lines drawn between people according to worldly standards, the Christian witness to God’s intended wholeness is needed now more than ever!
“Make love your aim,” writes Paul. Indeed.

Wilson is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Follow him on Twitter: @nathandaywilson

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