In 2003, the band Black Eye Peas recorded the song titled, “Where is the Love?” I find myself drawn back to the words of that song in light of the most current acts of violence in our communities:
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach?
Or would you turn the other cheek?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me questionin’
Where is the love
It just ain’t the same, old ways have changed
New days are strange, is the world insane?
If love and peace are so strong
Why are there pieces of love that don’t belong?
If you never know truth then you never know love
Where’s the love
Whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity ...
I am equally drawn to the Old and New Testament scriptures that remind me where this love stems from first and foremost. These particular verses are the first that come to my mind during these times (from The Harper Collins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version):
A lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which commandment is the law is the greatest? Jesus said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40)
“Love is patient, love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irratiable nor resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love Never ends.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
“... What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Of course, it seems easy to pull out a few verses, here and there, and say, here is the answer—but it is not that simple.
As someone who studies scripture, I have discerned that love is not something these faithful writers of scripture used sparingly like it is a spice found in a salt and pepper shaker. Love is a common thread throughout Jesus’ teaching and Paul’s letters in the New Testament part of the Bible.
Yet, throughout history, it has appeared that love has gone missing, or been overcome by the conflicts, hate, atrocities in those moments. In our history, scripture has also been used against groups of people to justify and judge who is “in” and “out” in society.
Sometimes, there are folks who come to church who have felt judged, unloved or not accepted by other churches or society. Perhaps some folks have been told that the Church, “hates the sin but loves the sinner.” Guess what? We are all sinners and not one is above another in what is deemed “right” or “wrong” – we are the church together.
We bring all that we are and hope to find a community where we can be accepted and loved just as we are. No one comes into the church with the right clothes, the right status, the right beliefs ... because faith is not about being right. My hope and prayer is that each person finds a community of faith where love is found, and that this love will carry over into all of our words and deeds as children of God.
The Rev. Rachel Schwab is the visitation pastor at First United Church of Christ in Carlisle.