(I Preached this sermon in response to John 1:1–18 and Jeremiah 31:7–14. You can find the full worship service on our church website — www.ststephenlc.org.)
Which is more loving? To acknowledge and deal with difficult and uncomfortable realities in order to arrive at a resolution and have a path forward. Or to avoid conflict and put those things aside, not talk about them, or even acknowledge them because they are uncomfortable, and we don’t think it would be loving to make someone or ourselves uncomfortable?
The first option can and most likely will be unpleasant and could be painful for everyone involved. It could mean the ending of a relationship. It will require difficult decisions that often times aren’t clear. We will have to live with the consequences of costly decisions. Is it loving though? That is the question. Choosing the first option is really about making a decision to accept short term pain but obtain long-term benefit.
The second option will provide what will feel like comfort in the short term — or at least allow us to avoid the pain of conflict for now. Conflict never really goes away though — it will rear its head again later and we’ll have to deal with it and it will probably be more difficult because we put it off. Choosing the second option is really about making a decision for short term benefit, but at the cost of maintaining long-term pain.
We make these decisions all the time in life. How do we deal with an unhealthy culture of a workplace or organization we’ve been a part of? How do we get our kids to do the hard work of learning in school? How do we deal with a family conflict? How do we deal with a terminal diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one? Do we choose the short-term avoidance of pain of having to deal with reality and difficult unclear choices, or do we choose the long-term benefit, no matter how painful the short term may be? The question is, which is more loving?
The key characteristic of God is love. And so, when we ask, what is more loving, we are really taking a look to see what is more Godly? What is more in alignment with God’s character? What is more Christlike?
Except for the letter to the Ephesians, love isn’t mentioned in our Scripture passages. Yet, Love is the very context and the foundation for these passages. If God is love, then how could they be founded on anything else?