Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. –1 John 4:7
I just had a conversation with Marcie, a very secular colleague, a psychology professor. (Need I say more?) In the course of that talk, we happened upon the idiosyncrasies of one of our more unique fellow faculty members. As we reached a point in the discussion, we both groped for a word that would be both polite and accurate regarding this man. She then indicated that she tried to always avoid negative terms. Is that loving? It seems loving? Yet Marcie would, I’m fairly certain, chafe at the idea that she has “been born of God and knows God.”
Once again, John seems to be putting us into a bind by portraying a binary world. If you’re loving you know God. If you’re not loving, you must not know God. Does this mean that Marcie is a sort of crypto-believer or that the love John talks about is different from the love that Marcie seems to be describing.
As a mediocre Greek and theology student, I must confess that I don’t have a solid answer to that question, but as it turns out, I don’t need to have an answer. In applying John’s words to my life, I don’t have to know about the inner workings of Marcie’s mind. Might she simply be loving in order to be polite and socially acceptable? Yeah. Might her love have a definite boundary? Of course.
What I do need to know about is my heart. Am I ever loving simply to be polite and socially acceptable? My answer to that question is troubling to me. Does my love have boundaries? Will I love this far and no further? Will I love someone who is two steps out of my comfort zone but not three?
I’ll leave Marcie’s mind to her and God. Before I start dealing with whatever speck she has in the eye, I have plenty of work to do with the beam in mine.