Loving in a World Gone Mad

Fr. Jeremy | 23 March 2019

As we enter more deeply into the life of the Church, we begin to discover more intimately what it means to be human. Consequently, the world around us appears to be even more insane. When I was in high school, which was not terribly long ago, one of the primary concerns for young Christian students was the false dichotomy of science vs. religion. Somehow, evolution might steal away our youthful faith.

Nowadays, our children are getting hit from every side to the core of their humanity. To talk as if there are two genders, as if genetics and science can prove anything, is enough to enrage a rapidly growing, vocal minority in our country. One priest lamented to a group of us that most young people feel awkward stating they are heterosexual, because that might make it sound like they don’t like or want to be friends with people of their same gender.

Reason and rational thinking are being tossed aside in order to embrace a life of unsteady emotions. Disagreeing with someone could get you labeled a fascist, a Nazi, or a bigot.

The madness is undeniable. But what can we do? Most of us are not fully healed of the world ourselves – and I am one of those struggling toward wholeness. I believe the answer is that we love. As the holy Apostle John wrote,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love…Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us…And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him…And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. [1]

The world needs examples of devout, unconditional love.  While I am far from possessing such a thing, I remember once I met a group of teenagers on the street coming back from an LGBTQ rally. We talked for a little while; I told them that God loves them, and I admitted that Christians have been harshly judgmental at times. Two of them were so touched they wanted to give me a hug, but then suddenly withdrew. They looked down and mumbled, “You probably wouldn’t want to hug people like us.” I opened my arms and said, “Come here.” We hugged as tears poured from their eyes. These young men obviously had been hurt or rejected at some point by a Christian, and now a Christian was offering a little human compassion, which went a long way.

I make it a point to try not to preach at my friends, including my homosexual or transgender friends. If they ask, I affirm that I hold the traditional values on marriage and sexual relations.  But I explain why — I tell what it means to be human, what the Fall of Adam and Eve means to the way that our humanity and sexuality have been warped, the high calling we have toward theosis, the fact that the “rules” of the Church are not meaningless regulations, but trail-markings to help us stay on the path toward divinity in Christ.

However, I recognize not everyone will care about our opinions. Some people only want to be validated in their current erroneous mindset and anything that challenges their thoughts (even quietly) will bring out rage. I’ve seen that too, and it is ugly. It’s gotten especially bad in the past three years as our country becomes even more divided and polarized.

We Christians are facing our greatest challenge yet: will we love in a world going completely mad?  Will we look past the screaming, name calling, illogical arguments, irrational behavior, and psychological and spiritual illnesses to see a wounded human being made in the image of God?  Will we accept them when they turn toward Christ, but still struggle with the wounds inflicted upon them by this broken world and the devil?  Will we persevere when they curse us for loving them?  Love Himself became incarnate and was crucified for showing the world pure love; we must be willing to accept that same fate in some manner.

The heavens and the earth…are reserved for fire until the day of judgment,” but such judgment is not ours. [2]  Can we let God be the one who burns the world in the end, and refrain from burning others with our judgment?  There will be a fire, but it is not ours to set.

Lest anyone think I am special, I will be the first to admit that I get angry, stressed, and worried when I see what is going on the world.  It’s hard to see how any of this can work out for God’s glory, but none of this has caught God off guard.  Our Christian calling remains: to love God and love neighbor.  May our Lord help us to be creatures of love, filling the dark places of the world around us with divine love and beauty as we recognize the image of God within ourselves and our neighbor.  Amen.

End Notes:

[1] Excerpts from 1 John 4

[2] 2 Peter 3:7

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