“Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize you, and say: Jesus, my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.“
“The more you get, the more you have. The more you give away in love, the more you are.”
Frederick Buechner (d. 8/15/2022)
L. Gregory Jones tells of a woman named Maggie, who watched 70 members of her family and friends slaughtered in a civil war in her home country of Burundi. Despite these atrocities, she committed to rebuild what had been torn down. A single woman, she provided a home for hundreds of orphaned children – reaching beyond countries & borders. When asked why she continues to start new ministry opportunities, she tells Jones: “Love made me an inventor.”
We are changed by the love of God, not simply to receive – and certainly not for our comfort. We are changed by love to become inventors. Created in God’s image, we reflect this image when we find and create new ways to love others.
While it’s simple to criticize Christians and the Church – much of it deserved – the Church has always been most impactful and most faithful when it has sought ways to invent new ways to love each other, and our world.
In the early days of Christianity, Ed West notes that “a Roman father had total power of life and death over his children, and female infanticide was not unusual. Romans would happily watch an innocent man being torn to pieces by a wild animal for entertainment; slavery was ubiquitous and it was assumed that a man would sexually abuse his female slave; charitable giving outside the family was rare, and those who reached rock bottom in the imperial city would be left to literally die in the gutter.”
In each of these cases, Christians made an impact. Sometimes it was slow; sometimes it was noticeable. But in all cases, the earliest followers of Jesus became inventors – finding new ways to love the overlooked, abandoned, and vulnerable. To be true to the image of God in us, and the Spirit of God guiding us, we must continue do the same.
And finally, this song, which contains the beautiful line: “Love – let it be not just a feeling, but the broken beauty of what we choose to do.”