I recently stumbled across this fabulous quote from Greg Boyd, who blogs at Christus Victor Ministries, "...I honestly don’t believe we’ll even begin to move in the right direction until we resolve that loving one another (and everyone else) is a higher priority than proving, protecting and enforcing the rightness of our doctrines." This encapsulates what I have learned over the past few years, and believe somewhere deep at the bottom of my soul. Love trumps doctrine, every time, all the time.
Doctrine is about who is right and who is not. It always divides. That is why there are about a million (I'm not actually certain of the correct number) different denominations in any type of faith group. Everyone decides what they believe and what they don't believe, and they draw lines accordingly. It might feel good at the time to assert that you have the corner on truth and that everyone else is wrong, but that certainty doesn't usually last. I'm very glad it didn't last for me.
Now I know that love is the key which unlocks every door, both in my own heart and in the rest of the world. When we begin to love others the way we have been loved by God, all kinds of things are possible that you couldn't even conceive of before, like forgiveness, grace and understanding. I definitely don't like what a lot of people do to me or to others, but I can separate myself from the situation a little easier and extend more mercy than I've ever been able to in the past.
With love leading the way instead of doctrine, I can give more and expect less. I don't feel as diminished or affronted as I used to. I don't have to prove anything to myself or others. Love is much simpler, and much harder, because it goes beyond argument. It's not about right and wrong. It covers over all of that, like a blanket on an icy cold day. It offers comfort, and understanding; a soft place to land in the hard, cynical world in which we live.
I love the freedom which came when I understood that I didn't have to convince anyone of anything. All I have to do is love, to the best of my ability, and true love really does cast out fear. I don't need to argue with people about what I believe. It doesn't matter to me if they agree or disagree, as long as I have done my best to love them. It sounds simple to type it, but it is not easy, for I have failed to love, again and again, but there is comfort in leaving my doctrine by the side of the road and walking away from it.
Jesus said in Matthew 25, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." When his disciples asked when they had done that for him, he replied, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
That is love in action. That is what I want my life to look like. I don't want to be right. I want to love. That is the higher priority, and it is the only thing that can change the world. Love is the answer for hate. It is possible to love instead of being right. Like everything, it is a choice, every single day, as to what course of action we will take. I'm grateful to Greg Boyd for making it so simple and easy to remember. I'm going to keep his quote front and centre from this point forward.