Starting on Martin Luther King’s birthday, we have seen a number of quotes advocating love. I intended to post something that day, but as I frequently do I got diverted.
I wrote something about this long ago. It’s unfortunate that love has become a sort of cliche for a benevolent feeling combined with inaction. We can post comments about love and unity, and then go on doing what we were going to do anyhow.
I wrote about this back in 2006 in a post titled On Being a Love Preacher. I still am.
But love isn’t easy. I fail at it on a daily basis. That’s why I’m also a grace preacher. Grace deals with our failure to love.
The next error follows quickly after. Grace is not an alternative to sanctification. It isn’t a way to get out of being transformed. It’s not grace vs holiness. Rather, grace is the one means by which sanctification can happen. Wesleyans call it “sanctifying grace.” But all too often we pretend that sanctifying grace is something other than grace. It’s nice to have all those labels for grace applied in different ways at different times. But we can also forget that some of them are grace.
Sanctification is God working in you. It begins with God’s love and spreads through you. It is very active. It is not easy, any more than love is.
I hope that we don’t just comfort ourselves with quotes about love in action, but rather begin to see others through God’s work in us. Recognizing our limitations and failures and the way God has worked with us, we let grace sanctify the way we see our neighbors.
In the incarnation, God crossed the greatest gap possible, from the infinite to the finite, indeed miniscule on the scale of the finite. Your differences with your neighbor cover much less ground than God already covered.
The same gap crossing God can work in me, and in you.