loving God by loving people
early in the life of this blog in 2008 i participated in a synchroblog where i wrote a post called making the invisible visible. this past year my friend jonathan brink from civitas press began working on a collaborative book project for called the practice of love, which just released may 1st. i hope you will consider getting a copy because it is filled with stories of ordinary people wrestling with the ups and downs of the practice of loving God, others, ourselves, and our enemies. i know a chunk of the contributors & their hearts and passion for the practice of love is so evident. when he asked me to be part i thought of this post & the stories i am so privileged to be part of each and every day where those who were once invisible become visible.
here’s a little taste of the piece i have in the “loving God” section:
…I think a way we can love God is to love what he loves most–people. I don’t think God’s big redemption plan includes us sitting around staring up at the sky telling God how wonderful he is. Rather, I think Jesus modeled God’s true heart–love for the least, the last, the lost, the forgotten, the invisible.
When we love people, we love God. When we participate in helping the invisible become visible, we love God. Loving God is then intimately tied to loving the people God created.
Part of loving God is seeing with our hearts into the real and sacred stories of each other’s lives and actively participate in making the invisible visible by calling out the dignity, beauty, and worth of every human being we intersect with regardless of race, age, gender, socioeconomics, religion, brokenness, weird-life-circumstances-and-social-acceptedness.
i tell the story of my relationship with my friend lydia* and the weird and wild ways she has become visible in loving community. and how hard it is sometimes is:
The cost of making the invisible visible and my relationship with Lydia has been a lot of time, a lot of drama, and a lot of ups and downs. I think it’s safe to say that life is far easier when people–and problems–stay invisible. When what’s hidden comes to the surface and we practice tangible love, we intersect with a lot of pain. Sometimes it’s hard for me because making the invisible visible means I have to ache more, feel more, care more. I see pain, abuse, oppressive systems, and shame in the lives of others more clearly, and I often get angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the amount of brokenness in the world. There are days in my relationship with Lydia and many others that I wish I were still blind to pain and could live in my safe protected world. It was simpler when I didn’t see. It was also much emptier.
in reflecting on this project, considering the story of my ongoing relationship with lydia and so many other friends on-the-journey, this feels so clear: the practice of love is not science. people are not science. it’s a weird messy art form where we show up and do the best we can to see people the way that God sees people–in all their value and worth. Jesus was the master at restoring dignity and making visible what was once invisible. part of following Jesus is playing our small part in integrating his practices into ours.
but i’m more convinced than ever that these practices are hard. and costly. they make me tired sometimes. and mad. and sad.
and at the same time, they are so beautiful. to see someone’s dignity be restored, even if for a short moment, is one of the most glorious things on earth.
that’s what you’ll find in “the practice of love”–real stories with real costs and real learning.
i know you have quite a few of your own stories and that almost every one of them is filled with beauty & pain mixed together somehow. that’s somehow how love always is.
* * * * *
* other the practice of love contributors who also blogged this weekend on the project, enjoy:
- Anna Snoeyenbos:The Practice of Love: Real Stories of Living into the Kingdom of God
- Idelette McVicker: Loving Myself, A Woman
- Marian Struble: Practicing Love
- Jake Kampe: The Practice of Love
- Jeremy Myers: Grilling Your Enemies
- Kara Maddox: The Practice of Love Reflections
- Alise Wright: The Practice of Love
- Ray Carroll: The Practice of Love
- John Martinez: Love Is All You Need
- Naomi King: Love God
* * * * *
ps: also, here’s a little preview of down we go: living into the wild ways of Jesus, releasing june 1st, also by civitas press. i’m getting excited for it to all come together.
it’s inspiration and challenge for ecclesial dreamers,church burn-outs, missional practitioners, and ordinary people who want to live the ways of Jesus in practice.
section 1 – downward mobility
1. it stinks down here but i really love the smell
2. dreams are prettier when they are just dreams
3. there is no “us and them”, only us
4. “the kingdom isn’t going to just drop out of the sky”
section 2 – creating life down here
5. extending love, mercy, and compassion
6. welcoming pain
7. honoring doubt
8. diffusing power
9, practicing equality
10. pursuing justice
11. expressing creativity
12. celebrating freedom
section 3 – staying the course
13. beautiful and hazardous
14. we may look like losers
15. we may be crazy but we’re not alone
16. born again and again and again
some people have asked is it it best to pre-order or best to order on amazon or ? the best is if you wait until june 1st & order it on amazon that exact day. it’ll be on kindle, too. if you already pre-ordered it, no worries, and thanks!