All this “love stuff” can really mess up a person’s religious comfort zone

At Cedar Community Church we’ve been rolling through the gospel of Matthew at the speed of coffee for the past six years.

  • Monday, September 28, 2009 5:29pm
  • Opinion

By Pastor Dale Pratt

At Cedar Community Church we’ve been rolling through the gospel of Matthew at the speed of coffee for the past six years. That means…pour a cup. Sip. Read a bit. Lean back, close your eyes, take another sip and ponder. Sip. Meditate. Sip some more, think some more and engage in conversation with someone who cares. Exclaim to God: “You want me to do what?”

What I’ve found is that Jesus says some stuff that will upend your religious status quo, no matter what your religious status quo might be. And, don’t be so smug as to say that I’m the only one here who has a religious status quo! We all have some view of God and who he is and what he does, even if our view – read, faith – is that “The God” doesn’t exist. And, my experience is that most of the time our view is static – it doesn’t move on its own; it prefers to sit still and be comfortable.

Then, along comes Jesus and says something like the two most important rules of the road of life are to develop and live by a totally integrated love of God and a totally introspective love of people (Matthew 22:37-40).

“You want me to do what?”

I do fine with the old standby – thou shalt not kill and stuff like that in the “Big 10” – but this love stuff messes me up.

I’m a Sunday School boy. My first introduction to this thing we call “church” was when I was 4 days old and my mom and dad took me to show me off to the friends and family. I’ve probably averaged more than 50 times a year in church since then. I know static! Don’t mess with my comfort zone! Then I learn to read and pay attention to the writings for myself as I get into my 20s, and along comes Jesus talking to the religious folks 2,000 years ago and I find the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 as the Apostle Paul applies pressure on church folks 50 or 60 years later – and what’s a guy supposed to do?

So I sip my coffee, lean back in my chair – Mom’s not there to tell me I can’t lean back and it’s my chair so if I break the legs it’s my broken chair – and I meditate. Sip. Hmmmmmm. If I do all the religious stuff but miss the love point, I’ve wasted my time? It doesn’t count? God’s not impressed? But my chart on the wall is all filled in and the check marks are there. I’ve done good! I’m a good boy! God’s not impressed?

Whoa! Something’s wrong!

Yep!

Paul ends that chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 by saying there are important things, but the most important of all is love. I can keep the list, do my duty, play my part, be a good boy, maybe even impress a few folks along the road – and God’s not impressed if I miss the love thing. I love to refer to this love chapter in wedding ceremonies, but the concept of unconditional, unmitigated, totally integrated and introspective love is a life thing – if I’ll get a grip on it inside me, and with God, my wife and kids and friends and family and church family and neighbors…yes, even my enemies…will be impacted in a positive manner.

“God, help me to love like You love, and like You want me to love. Amen!”

That’s what’s on my mind this week. I intend to keep it on my mind this lifetime.

Pastor Dale Pratt can be reached at dale@cedarcommunitychurch.org.

More in Opinion

Concessions may be needed to enact carbon pricing

This is the sixth year Gov. Jay Inslee will try to convince lawmakers that the best means of fighting climate change is by making it more expensive to pollute.

Humility allows for tolerance of other’s opinions

Each of us has grown up in different circumstances. Each has been shaped by our life experiences. Each of us sees the world around us differently as a result. Why, then, should it be so difficult to understand that no two people will agree on every issue?

President Trump working toward the vision of our Founders

President Trump is working to return power and liberty to the people.

Inslee: ‘It’s our state’s destiny … to fight climate change’

In his State-of-the-State address, the governor made the case for an ambitious carbon tax.

Culture, politics have and continue to shape race relations

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

Better luck this year, Eyman

2017 was a stinky year for Tim Eyman. It ended with a thud last week when he confessed to not collecting enough signatures to get onto the ballot a measure that would reduce car tab fees and kneecap Sound Transit.

Fake news or bad reporting?

This has not been a good month for reporting. But one wrong fact does not fake news make.

Don’t label all Trump supporters as racist

While the column correctly points out that Trump supporters are happy with his performance and still enthusiastically support him, Mr. Elfers had to inject the liberal “lie” that Trump supporters are racist.

Political turmoil makes nations stronger

Finish this sentence: “What doesn’t kill you___________.” This is how I introduced my recent continuing education class entitled, “President Trump a Year Later.” Of course, this quote is normally completed with the words, “makes you stronger.”

U.S., Russia agree on Middle East situation

Since Russia helped Syria’s Bashar al-Assad stay in power and helped to defeat ISIS, are Russia and the U.S. at odds in the Middle East? Is Russia threatening American dominance in the region? The answer to both is no.

Page-turners: Best books of 2017

Continuing an end-of-year tradition that dates back more than 15 years, the King County Library System has chosen its Best Books of 2017.

Anthem protests about equality, not disrespect

For all who write negative comments about the football players who took a knee and posted that “this is not the America we grew up in,” let me share a few of the personal events from my life growing up in Tacoma Washington as a white woman.