I just came in from my morning walk.
My devotions led me to this.
A couple of decades back folks got into the habit of referring to “tough love.”
About the same time I got into the habit of saying “Is there any other kind?”
There is no indulgence in love that doesn’t require pain.
In the most idyllic of relationships at some point there is a parting. I have been honored to be present for many of those partings.
You better believe there is some pain.
But that isn’t what I was praying about this morning.
I was praying about our call to love folks who won’t ever reciprocate. Folks who will continue to hurt you. Heck, folks who barely, if at all, know you exist.
And it is getting tougher all the time.
(I am praying in the context of my culture. It’s the only one I have.)
I have asked our friend Jesus to make me tougher.
I ain’t going to be unfriending anybody.
The person who is most radically opposite me I have to love.
The person who is shallow and erratic? Lots of love.
The person who criticizes and condemns? The racist and the bigot?
Tough love is redundant. Maybe even synonymous.
Even the most disappointing of them all, the guy in the mirror? I even have to love that old, and odd, fella.
Tough love. It is absolutely essential, radically indispensable, if we are going to aim high enough to change the conversation.
I dreamed last night. I seldom remember my dreams but this one was vivid, and startling. We were gathered for some apostolic overcoming holy worship. All of us, except the leaders of the church and state. We were old and young. We were every color of skin. We were all over the spectrum. We were women and men. We were gay and straight. Heck, we were even Auburn fans holding hands with Alabama fans.
The leaders came to us and very emphatically told us we couldn’t do this.
We all turned. It was beautiful. No choir ever sang it better. With one voice we thundered
Hide and watch!
I asked our friend Jesus, just this morning, if this is real. I was thinking of asking for good gloves. Or thicker callouses. Or even a reasonably comfortable retirement.
He showed me his hands.
And said, “we’ve got this.”