The Ultimate Question

FullSizeRender-1Writer Jonathan Merritt tweeted today, “Sometimes the weight of life is so heavy.” Indeed.

There are many reasons my life is not “heavy.” I’m getting ready to vacation with my family. I have a great job that is hard and requires being creative to keep on going–it’s a challenge, and I LOVE a challenge. My kids are healthy and my husband is kind and present.

But events in my city, my country and my world have been heavy. I’m alarmed at the seeming increase in hate in the world. Not just intolerance. Hate.

I’ve seen videos that scare me and make me sad. I’ve read comments by leaders that are truly disturbing. Religious leaders. Political leaders. Entertainment leaders. Heroes, or at least respected leaders, fallen in my eyes and more importantly, influencing culture for the worse, I fear.

I’ve watched the whole confederate flag controversy spread, from silly Facebook banter to scary news videos. It’s not the only issue out there, but it’s one I relate to and it’s one that prompts the ultimate question, at least for me.

I grew up with a confederate flag always perched on the top of my Christmas tree. Sound crazy? I doubt I’m the only kid of the south who had a confederate flag on my Christmas tree. Every year.

My stepfather was a bit of a historian and researched medical practices during the Civil War. He had some authentic medical instruments from the war, and hundreds of book about the war. I’ve visited so many battlefields in Virginia, as well as many north and south of my home state, that the adolescent child in me still sighs every time I pass a sign for Gettysburg or Petersburg or Any Burg, recalling the hours of unsolicited history lessons I endured as my stepfather pontificated on Civil War trivia. When he drove me to Penn State for my freshman year, it took 10 hours because of the battlefield stops that were required from Tidewater, Virginia to Central Pennsylvania.

Yes, I had ancestors who fought in the Civil War, and no, they did not wear union gray. Nevertheless, I won’t contend that the flag was anything other than just an historic flag to me. It meant old war stories about numbers of troops and boring trips to empty battlefields and musket bullets purchased in gift shops. And Christmas. While the confederate flag never held a place of holiness in my heart, for my stepfather, I think it did. After my stepfather died, I even thought about putting it on my own tree. It reminded me of him, and I loved him.

Recently I saw a video of a small black boy crying in response to protests at the South Carolina Capitol. He was scared. He expressed real fear. And it broke my heart.

A few years ago and again in a more recent sermon, I heard a question that stuck in my heart. The question for every Christian, of whatever persuasion, of whatever political predilection, is this:

What does love require of me?

It really is that easy.

Pondering this question has helped me through a number of issues, some that hit me close to home and some more distant but equally troubling.

What does love require of me?

We can argue about a lot of things. But in the end, answering this question, at least for me, gives me guidance and makes me less interested in arguing with you.

I don’t answer to you, so I am truly unconcerned with what you think of my political opinions, if you can even figure them out (I can’t most of the time), or my religious persuasion, or my view on any number of topics. And you don’t answer to me, so there is no need to tell me about them on Facebook or Twitter or even through that outdated mode of socializing, face-to-face. You can Ding, Dong, You’re Opinion Is Wrong-me all day long, but you’ll have made no impact.

As for me, I answer to God. Yes, HA HA, my boss is a Jewish Carpenter. Laugh if you must. But that’s the only opinion I ultimately care about. So I ask:

What does love require of me?

It’s not simply a Christian concept. It’s a useful question for anyone. Love is good, right? So ask:

What does love require of you?

Answer that, and you’ll have peace.

Until the next video.

Then repeat the process.

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