A simple but powerful message of love
Credit: ISTOCK (KEVRON2001)
Love is a powerful thing and with Jesus' love for us, it makes it even more important.
Well, it is possible that you could hear expressions of intolerance towards others in a Church. But I would guess that your chances of hearing someone speak with that kind of message last Sunday morning in any of the hundreds of Churches within a reasonable drive of Fanshawe’s London campus would be almost zero.
The message I heard this past Sunday would be typical.
It was spoken by a friend, Susan DeMont. DeMont and I met a couple of years ago. Today she is nearly finished her formal training to be a pastor. When we met, she impressed me with her understanding of young people who find themselves couch surfing, lured into sex trafficking and exposed to drug and alcohol abuse by their parents.
So, it was no surprise to me to learn recently that has become the coordinator of a church-based program to find homes for homeless youth. She is the Home Host Co-ordinator for the Portal Youth Centre (which is quite interesting to me since about eight years ago I helped begin the centre). The centre is located in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, near where I currently live.
On Sunday DeMont spoke at my church. She talked about her Catholic past. She shared that in her church, as is typical in Catholic churches, there is a strong emphasis on community, and on God’s call to be a community of love. DeMont helped me and the rest of audience to recall that Jesus Christ laid down his life to bring such a community into existence. This is at the core of being a church. It is a community bound together by love.
But, DeMont continued, love is not just an emotion, a feeling. It goes much further. It is action.
Jesus Christ acted to help people in trouble. The accounts of his life are filled with stories of him healing the disabled and ill. And he acted to take on himself the burden and results of human sin, dying to resolve it all before God. “Jesus,” DeMont says, “was a man of action.”
DeMont applies this to us. She says that God calls us also to act in the service of others. She quotes from one of Jesus’ followers. “...let us not love with words or speech [alone], but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18 in the Bible).
God is not much interested in religious rituals, according to DeMont. Visiting holy sites, religious ceremonies and rites, refraining from food (fasting), specific prayer times, paying for religious buildings – all of that kind of thing is not the greatest priority for God.
The heart of living by God’s ways is much more along these lines: breaking the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the poor. To support her statements, DeMont draws on the pre-Jesus voices in the Bible, on Jesus’ followers, and on Jesus himself.
DeMont spoke about a 17-year-old young woman. She is searching for a home for the girl that is a good fit. It’s difficult. The girl suffers from a number of mental health problems. It will not be easy to find a place for her. And, I myself am sure, that finding a place for this young person will take a toll on DeMont herself.
I’ll give the last word to DeMont. “I have seen firsthand what a safe, secure shelter does for a youth who feels abandoned and overlooked. I have seen firsthand what a single act of love and kindness does for them. These are beautiful young people, loved by God just as much as he loves all of us who find ourselves safe and warm with a roof over our head at night.” But as believers in Christ, DeMont concludes, “We love because he first loved us.”