“The love John speaks of is one built not on sentimentality but in concrete acts of care — care that intersects the true wounds and needs of those around us. The scandal of Christianity is that we love and encounter God through people. . . . If the love we claim to have doesn’t lead to a commitment to seeing wholeness and justice, we will have short-circuited God’s love.”- Rich Villodas
“Justice is what love looks like in public.”- Professor Cornel West
“Whoever does not love their brother of sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”- 1 John 4:20 (NIV)
In Chapter 9 (“Love in Public: Justice in the Way of Jesus”) of Good and Beautiful and Kind, Rich Villodas underscores that God is to be loved in all and through all. Thus, the biblical idea teaches that we love God by means of all our loves. And that includes those loves that in fact appear quite down to earth.
Above all, Pastor Villodas observes, we live out our rootedness in God’s love, but not only in our private life. We must also demonstrate that love in the larger, public world we live in. Hence, to speak in a meaningful way about love means caring about justice. Therefore, Rich adds:
“Justice in the way of the Hebrew prophets, the tradition Jesus follows, is an act of profound love. It is the public dimension through which the Shema and the greatest commandment to love God and neighbor are fulfilled.”
In conclusion, theologian Scot McKnight wisely counsels us not to look to the surrounding culture as the starting point for understanding justice. Rather, we need to define justice in a way consistent with Jesus’ understanding of ‘kingdom’.
Certainly, Jesus loves all people. However, the Bible details Jesus’ track record of paying particular attention to the people society ostracizes or overlooks. For God prioritizes the care and well-being of the mistreated.
Today’s question: How do you minister with concrete acts of care? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “A Christian sense of justice”