(Credit: Boris Kasimov, Flickr Creative Commons)
I don’t care who you are.
If you were a American Christian teenager in the 90s, you loved DC Talk.
Don’t even pretend like you didn’t. Even if you went to one of those fundamentalist churches that thinks Christian rock (and, of course, rap too) is the devil’s music, we both know you were sneaking in a little Jesus Freak time when your parents weren’t looking. We all knew every word to every song on that album…and most of us still do.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Looking back, those earlier albums like Nu Thang and Free at Last and especially their accompanying music videos look crazy cheesy.
(Seriously. Watch this video and try not to say, “whoa.” You can’t do it.)
But in spite of the inexplicable shirtless vest wearing, the Liberty University dropouts had at least one line in one song that is as relevant today as it was way back in the day when it was ok to wear this hat in public.
I’m talking, of course, about Luv Is A Verb.
Even if you’re not down with the DC Talk, d-d-down with the DC Talk and you can’t flow like a bottle of Drain-O, stay with me on this and I promise I won’t make anymore references to any other 90s-era Christian rap/rock groups.
Love is a verb.
Especially in a Christian context.
It seems like a such a simple and obvious statement: love is something you do, no just something you feel or think about. That’s how Jesus approached love and as his followers we should do the same. Not much controversy there. In fact, whether you’re talking to super liberal or super conservative folks, you would be incredibly hard-pressed to find a Christian who would say they don’t love their neighbor and their enemies alike.
But far too often, that’s about all our love is. Like so many other things in American Christianity, loving our neighbors and our enemies is an idea we always agree with, but too rarely put into practice.
We agree that we should love our LGBT neighbors and even say that we do, but we’re ready at the drop of a hat to protest, boycott, and prooftext our way out of guaranteeing them equal rights.
We agree that we should love our black brothers and sisters and even say that we do, but when they die at the hands of authorities, we go out of our way to justify their execution and deny them justice.
We agree that we should love our immigrant neighbors and even say that we do, but we denounce any grace that is extended to them and cry out for a wall to be built to keep “the rest of them” out of our country.
And while we all agree we should love our enemies and don’t hesitate to say we do, when those enemies threaten our safety or peace of mind, we make it clear we’d rather drop bombs and put bullets in their heads then pray for them.
We passionately preach love from our pulpits and shout it from the mountaintops every chance we get, but when it comes time to putting that love into action and loving the people we don’t like, the people we’re afraid of, the people we don’t understand, and especially the people we think are sinners, we bend over backwards to excuse ourselves from offering them even an ounce of grace.
Yet, we continue to tell ourselves we’re loving because we love the people who already love us, the people it’s easy and safe to love. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
We can come up with excuses for why we couldn’t help them, find Bible verses to justify why shouldn’t serve those people, and conjure up terrifying scenarios of what might happen if we love the wrong people, but neither the presence of sin nor our fear of evil give us a Get Out Of Loving Free card.
If anything, where sin and evil abound, love and grace should abound even more.
As cliché as it may sound, I truly believe that love can change the world.
But if love remains nothing more than an idea, a principle we agree with but rarely practice, then it is utterly worthless.