First, a little update:
I’ve been at a new church for about two and a half months.
During that time, I’ve been relatively silent in. the blogosphere, but it couldn’t be going better.
Thanks to all the people who have reached out and expressed congratulations or well wishes.
It means a lot and I’m thankful that we don’t have to move through life alone.
That said, one of my favorite parts of First Pres is the tagline which reads, “Above all, love.”
It is a big reason I ended up here and the more I reflect on it, the more I believe it to be helpful as a guide for action.
It isn’t easy.
It is complicated, even counter-intuitive.
But it has the potential to be a blueprint for relationships, families and communities.
Above success, greatness, big-ness.
Above excellence, performance, quality.
Above effectiveness, efficiency, expedience.
Above power, control, authority.
Above reputations, marketing, appearances.
Above clarity, precision, details.
Above differences, distinctions, divisions.
Above preferences, opinions, partiality.
Above conventions, habits, institutions.
Above accumulation, security, stuff.
Above outcomes, situations, circumstances.
Above self-interest, personal gain, individual comfort.
Above ambition, drive, aspiration.
Above being right, correct, accurate.
Above them and us.
Above me and you.
Above in and out.
Above good and bad.
Above this and that.
Above everything that can be measured.
Above everything that sounds right.
Above everything we may think matters.
Above all, love.
Admittedly, the word love comes with some baggage and confusing connotations.
And our language uses the word for many different things.
At its core, love simply seeks the best interest of the loved.
It isn’t enabling.
It is honest and truthful and calls out the best.
It doesn’t skate around the truth, it confronts in kindness and grace.
It sets boundaries and maintains them.
It isn’t sentimentality.
It isn’t the absence of conflict.
It isn’t the emotional equivalent of fuzzy slippers.
It is the commitment to treating people like they hold in their chest the breath of God.
It is a choice.
It is a state of being.
It can become natural with practice.
It also isn’t an excuse to sacrifice other important values.
There are great things that aren’t necessarily the highest thing.
They can be helpful, but they aren’t the best way to live.
If we optimize to other values, we may get results, but people will get pushed to the side.
Love starts and ends with the commitment to people.
As I continue to live in a community trying to live out this tagline, I keep seeing its simple beauty.
Nobody is perfect, but everyone is loved.
And we won’t always love perfectly, but as we move in that direction, the tagline calls us onward.
I’m becoming convinced that love is the way forward if we want relationships that matter, families that care for each other and communities that thrive.
Above all, love.