Behold, God’s dwelling place is with the human race.
God, are you so sure that’s a good idea? It seems like every few weeks we hear news of another way that the world is falling apart. Shootings, bombings, stinginess, meanspiritedness, chaos, uncertainty – all of these things are what await you when you come to dwell with us.
But you probably knew that. That is why this Sunday’s readings announce “there shall be no more death” and “see, I make all things new”. You know that we are in constant need of consolation and transformation.
Paul and Barnabas exhorted the early church by saying “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God”. I never wanted to believe that. Couldn’t our easy lives lead us to the Kingdom? The better I got to know you, God, the more I realized that discipleship is not easy. There is sacrifice and commitment and grit required to stay on the path that leads to you. This may be beautiful and enriching, but it is not easy.
Nothing is ever simple with you. You dwell among us to love us, but to follow you makes things harder, and the world is still a mess, and you are still here even though a deity with any sort of self-preservation mechanism would find a nicer place to hang out.
If there’s anything I know about you, it’s that you don’t care to preserve yourself, the nature of your existence is to spend yourself. And then you tell us:
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
Is this what you’re betting on? Is this why you stay? When we do this well, when we love one another, it is 1000 times brighter than the evil of sin is dark. You know we can do it because you made us to do it. Love is our origin, love is our constant calling, love is our fulfillment in heaven. In a paradoxical way, maybe that’s the simplest thing of all.
If you’re willing to take a chance on us, on our loving and getting it right once in a while, then I’ll take that chance too. Every day, every crisis, I am still siding with love, even when it feels like a sucker’s bet. I know it’s not easy, but I’ll do my best to stay here dangling on a limb with you, loving humanity, spending myself.