Last year Vernon Ware wrote a blog called “Showtime” challenging readers to think about how we might take the message of Easter beyond Easter Sunday. Vernon suggested the answer is by demonstrating love in a relevant way. After much reflection, I have to agree.
The hard part is that love lived in relation to other human beings is complicated and messy. People are imperfect. I am imperfect. If our imperfections weren’t enough, other people have the audacity to be different than me. Loving in midst of differences requires me to be open and flexible. It begs me when there is misunderstanding and miscommunication to open up more, to become even more vulnerable.
Easter is a very hopeful inspiring story. The resurrection thing sounds great, but the cross part not so much. I’ll pass on the flogging. I’ll pass on the crown of thorns. I’ll pass on carrying my cross to the hill. I’ll pass on being nailed to the cross. I’ll pass on being humiliated and laughed at and denigrated. Can I just skip Calvary and go straight to resurrection? The results of my ponderings was no. As the adage says, people don’t care about what you know until they know how much you care.
First I must love. I am called to love with the agape kind of love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I am called to be respectful and compassionate. I am called to imagine dwelling in another human being’s lived experience albeit temporarily. If I’m honest with myself in my desire to live the Easter message, then I have to also say that I’m called to love people as they are in all their imperfection and messiness and in all the ways they are different from me.
Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said, “Pick up your cross and follow me” (Luke 14:27). My cross is different from yours. My path of following will be uniquely mine. Through it all, I can choose to love agape style. I will be patient and kind. I will not be envious. I will not boast. I will not be arrogant or rude. I will not insist on my own way. I will not be irritable or resentful. I will rejoice when you do well and find your truth. I will protect, trust, hope, and persevere. That kind of love requires my vulnerability and authenticity; it breaks my heart and tears me open; it is hard. Because I am human, I demonstrate these attributes of love imperfectly. Nevertheless, I choose to do my best to live the Easter message everyday: love lived agape style.