If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.–1 John 4:20-21
Today, I enjoyed a harrowing experience. Back on Monday, I made a list of things I needed to accomplish in the week to come. Since today is Friday, I’m down to finishing off all those matters that I had put off ’til tomorrow. Two of them stood out. “Get the ladder” and “Clean out gutter.”
Most people do not look forward to cleaning out gutters, but my gutter, on the back of the house, is particularly unpleasant. A complete two stories up, this stretch of gutter resists all attempts by sane people to reach it. I can’t get to it from the deck. There’s no window access. I considered getting onto the roof from the front and crawling over the top, but I’m too big a chicken for that. Instead, I borrowed my mother’s extension ladder, a wobbling, wiggling affair, and clambered up to a nervous look over the gutter’s edge.
They say that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” In the case of gutters, I think that absence makes the heart ignore. I’ve known that this particular stretch of our gutters was messed up for a couple of years, but with its rather out-of-the-way location, I could easily ignore it. I can’t ignore my grass when it gets too tall but I can ignore the miniature wilderness area between our house and the “vampires” next door. What you don’t see very often is easy to block out.
As he continues to harp on the necessity of loving our brothers, John seems determined to demolish all of our pretenses, our illusions of truly loving God when we don’t. Think about it. When you see some able-bodied person’s yard a total mess, don’t you expect that the less obvious matters of home maintenance, matters like gutters, might not be getting proper attention. So it is with our love for God. If we can’t love the people right in front of us, who are we fooling when we say we love God? We’re not fooling God. Perhaps we’re just fooling ourselves.