‘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. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
— Matthew 5:32-36
Legend has it that Hollywood’s most hilarious curmudgeon, W.C. Fields, was in his dressing room reading a bible when his manager walked in. Shocked to find the cranky comic with the Good Book in hand, the manager asked Fields what he was doing.
“Looking for loopholes,” he quipped.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God had given us God’s Word complete with asterisks pointing out exceptions and loopholes so that we could take comfort in our having so many love deficits?
Wouldn’t it be nice if God said that we’re to love all are neighbors *UNlESS we have issues to the point of hatred for ……
FILL IN THE BLANKS OF All THOSE YOU HATE OR DESPISE, DEAR CHRISTIAN READER (WRITE ON BACK OF PAGE IF YOU NEED MORE SPACE):
His Greatness the Rev. Will D. Campbell, the great Southern “bootleg” preacher, civil rights fighter and maybe the most interesting White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Christian maverick of the 20th Century, was with Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy and all the other giants of the civil rights movement in the mid-1950s, when it required some real courage and Christian integrity even for a Baptist preacher to be in the company of Dr. King and company. He was also among those activists with King at the Memphis motel when King was assassinated.
So there was no denying Campbell’s commitment to anti-racism–and yet he spent his whole life ministering to Ku Kluxers and other flaming racists as well as minorities.
Campbell, who died last year, frequently had to remind us that “Jesus died on the cross for bigots, too.”
Nobody ever said that Christianity–“The Way,” as Christianity was called long before it was known as Christianity–is an easy Way, even if a rare kind of saintly bird like Will Campbell comes along to remind us that you just follow the Way–you just do it no matter how challenging the task of love is–rather than looking for loopholes.