People say love is blind, and there is an element of truth to that. I think of the verse that says “Love covers a multitude of sins.” But so often when the expression “love is blind” is used I think we are talking about infatuation. Infatuation is blind. But Love? Love is not blind. It is, in fact, the only force in the universe that enables us to see.
For the past couple years, I’ve been part of a small fellowship. We’re kind of an oddity. We’re small, and we meet like a home fellowship, but we ended up in possession (though no effort of our own) of this 182 year old church meeting house, built in 1829. We were all somewhat puzzled. We knew we didn’t need it, but the circumstances that brought it into our possession made us feel we had it for a purpose. So, we met there, and kept asking the Lord “why do we have this?” Some “meet-in-houses-only” Christians at times explored meeting with us, but the fact that we were meeting in a “church building” really was this huge stumbling stone, and so our meeting together with them never materialized.
I myself, before joining this little fellowship, found myself increasingly of that camp. I felt so much of “building campaigns” and the like were a waste of time and money and were focused on things rather than relationships. I was increasingly of the mindset that homes were the the only model of church life that really would produce the kind of vibrant community of love that one sees at the end of the second chapter of Acts, one where people were loving each other so much that they were selling their possessions to help those among them who were in need.
But this little fellowship messed with my ideas. I started going there because I had some old friends who were there, including the leader of the group, Craig. I really wasn’t planning on being a part of them, but the first day I came, I remember feeling so at home just to worship with them, and I found myself being continually drawn back. The group was in transition at that time, which meant a number of people left, but the smaller we got the more real we got with one another, and we transitioned from Craig sitting on a stool up front, to turning around the pews in a circle, to finally all sitting in a circle in the back of the room. That was when we got puzzled. Five or six people sitting in a circle in a vacant building. Why not meet in a home? Some of you reading this, maybe have the same question. But, I now believe God allowed it to intentionally challenge my ideas. I was so sure I knew what the “right” model was, and it was as if he was saying to me: “You’re missing the point.”
When I first arrived at this little fellowship, Craig was leading a discussion weekly on John 15, and though we have certainly had many discussions on many other books, chapters and verses since then, there is a sense that we haven’t left that chapter. It’s helpful to understand this chapter by viewing it from the point of view of Jesus’ humanity. He knew he was preparing to face an excruciatingly painful death. When people are facing death, they tend to focus on the most key, most important things. So what was on Jesus’ mind as he faced his imminent demise? In a word, Love. If he had one parting word, one parting thought, it was that they love one another. Yes, he said “keep my commands”, but then if there was any doubt as to what he meant, he said “This is my command: love one another.”
I wrote about this in an earlier essay on this blog. There, I spoke of my reflections on Judas, and how heart-breaking it must have been to the other disciples to realize they were unaware of what was going on inside of him. Only Jesus had known. Why had he known? Because he loved even Judas. The disciples, by contrast, in those last moments when Jesus was pouring out his heart, still had not really learned to love one another. They were still vying over who was better than the other, and because of all their jockeying for position, they were blind to what was happening right in front of their eyes. Only love can see.
And how did Jesus know that the Pharisees were plotting to kill him? Was it because he was just so wise in the wisdom of this world? So often we read his words to them – the “eight woes” they are often called – and we hear the way we might say those words. For years, I sort of heard Jesus saying “You guys are real jerks. I really don’t care for you very much.” But slowly as the Lord loved me in my own moments of hypocrisy (play-acting, pretending), I realized his tone of voice, even then, even in those eight woes, was far different than I had ever imagined. Now when I read those eight woes, I hear a gentle, loving, chiding voice, pleading with everything in His power for them to see themselves, and cease from their destructive murderous behavior. Was he serious? Dead serious. He knew how terribly harmful their behavior was, but his viewpoint was absolute and complete love. It was for this reason that Paul the apostle, who was a self-proclaimed “pharisee of pharisees” could write “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“You’re missing the point.” Yes, I had been missing the point. Where I met with other believers was not the point. No more than the many things the pharisees brought up were the point – whether or not you wash your hands before eating, whether or not you fast, whether or not you consider picking stalks of grain to be “breaking the sabbath.” All these things missed the point. The point, the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was Love. Love God. Love one another. Love your enemies. Far from making us blind, Love, true agape love, gives us eyes to see.