An Untidy Faith

messyIt’s tidy to reduce our faith to an intellectual exercise of systematic theology and positions on various topics. You can make a checklist to see if someone is right or wrong. It’s tidy to categorize the losers who get it wrong. You’re right, they’re wrong! Done.

But love is always messy. That’s because it’s unconditional. So, you learn to love people who are messed up and have real issues. They will disappoint you and try your patience, because being messed up is the universal condition of human beings. It’s always there when get we past the human hologram that projects how how wonderful we are. Loving people will take you places you never wanted to go.

You can’t fix them, but you can love them. They will disappoint you. They will not always like you. But then, we disappoint others, and are not always likable, either.

Love is the hardest, easiest, most strenuous, natural, frustrating, fulfilling thing we ever do.

There are lots of ways that people try to change other people. A lot of them are manipulative. Some are well meaning. None of them work.

Love works! Love is right, and is the only way of being right, that doesn’t require someone to be “right” and someone to be “wrong.”

Loving people as they are, and learning to love ourselves, warts and all, is the most transformative thing a human being can ever do. There is a connection between the two.

Love comes from God. He loves us. And if we don’t get it, we can’t give it. It’s hard to accept that we are loved by God, really loved, no matter what. It’s hard to love ourselves in accordance with the way he loves us.

It’s a basic building block of life, and is the very core of our faith and our relationship with him. It’s the freedom to stop trying to be good enough, or right enough. It’s the freedom to quit worrying about what we have none. It gets us out from under the cloud of guilt and shame, so we can feel his sunshine.

It’s the response to his loving us that makes us want to love other people the same way, even when they are different, even when they are supposed to be the enemy, even when they frustrate us.


Photo Credit: Stephen Depolo. Creative Commons.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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  1. Outstanding Glen! We can’t get enough of it.

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