Turning Toward Love

posted Aug 7, 2014, 5:40 AM by Web Ministry
I was introduced to Henri J. M. Nouwen and his writings while I attended seminary. Here is a quote that calls me back to his book “With Open Hands.”

“If you are praying, you can’t help but have critical questions about the great problems the world is grappling with, and you can’t get rid of the idea that a conversion is not only necessary for yourself and your neighbor, but for the entire human community.” This conversion of the world means ‘turning-around,’ a revolution, which can lead to renewal. Nouwen speaks to the sense of helplessness that we so often feel when we come face to face with problems, challenges and opportunities that overwhelm us and makes us feel like we are defeated before we begin.

In this office of bishop you see so many things that cause you to know just how much you need the strength and power of other Christians and most of all the power of the Holy Spirit. John Carmody’s words are so appropriate; “if there is one task that life sets us, one charge we must fulfill before we end our days, it is to love the whole world and labor for the whole world’s prospering, despite the finitude, evil and death afflicting each of the world’s parts.” Jesus calls us to love a world that often angers us, curses us and who wishes us nothing but bitterness and despair. We are so divided into camps now, even in the church. In fact, the prevailing climates tells us that to be concerned about community is to be weak and without convictions. It takes convictions to speak the truth in love and to not allow the hatred of others to make you hate them. Yet, I hear, “if you love only those who love you what reward have you.”

The Christian must remind him or herself that regardless how this world treats us, we are called to Godly actions and attitudes. We cannot slip into a tit for tat mode or even worse decide to quit “working the works of God who sent us.” As school begins again for thousands of children around Mississippi don’t let your disappointment with some actions or inaction of the nation, state, your church, an individual or an institution cause you to quit being a person of love, generosity, justice and living like an apprentice of Jesus. Look around at what God has provided and let’s see how we can move in a Godly way to bless children that need to see our good works and give glory to God. We must never lose sight of who is in charge of this world. I am reminded of the words of the Affirmation of Faith of the Korean Methodist Church, “We believe in the final triumph of righteousness…” Do you believe that? If so let’s love like that starting today.

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.