The readings for today stress themes of knowing and loving. God knows us intimately beyond our comprehension. This knowing shows God’s love for us and calls us to respond in kind. Paul warns the Corinthians that knowledge can lead to arrogance and callous indifference to people who are weaker in their faith. Knowledge that frees me from considering the need to build up others hardly deserves the name “knowledge.” In this case, knowledge was working against love, instead of with it. Knowledge of the past experiences of others in Corinth with idol worship could instead have been used to help the Christians consider their actions more carefully. Similarly, learning about other cultures today can help us to understand better how to be more loving in our classrooms, workplaces, congregations, community, and world – if the focus remains on building up others.
The reading from Corinthians and the reading from Luke remind us of the depth of the commandment to love one another. Love requires restricting our freedom in order to avoid actions that may hamper others’ development (Corinthians). Knowing how to do this requires learning about those who see your actions. Again, knowing and loving go hand in hand. Jesus, in the passage from Luke, tells us how much farther love must go. Jesus knows us well and knows that we may get inflated with pride when we consider how well we love our families and those who treat us well. He challenges us to see that living the love commandment means so much more. It’s a hard teaching, to love your enemies. But wait, it goes even further! We’re to love our enemies and do good to them. I’d rather stay away from my enemies and “love” them from afar! Doing good to them will require that we get to know them. On this September 11th anniversary we may challenge ourselves to consider how this teaching applies to terrorists and our response to terrorism.
The words of Jesus at the beginning of the dialogue in Luke stand out as a call to us today. Jesus directs the entire dialogue on love to “you who hear.” Jesus knows how easy it is for us to simply not hear. I want to be one who hears and who loves. The Psalm for today offers wonderful words for asking the Spirit to show us the ways in which we still do not hear and to guide us back into the way of love more completely.
Probe me, O God, and know my heart;
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