Week One: Love Beyond

By Brian McLaren

You may have not noticed (!), but there’s an election going on.

We’re all so focused on who’s ahead in the polls that we might not notice what’s happening to our souls … who we are becoming as individuals and who we are becoming as a nation.

In times like these – times of social stress, political conflict, rising fears and resentments, and unresolved pain, we can turn ugly, nasty, or mean and be the last to know it.

We can think we’re great when we’re actually becoming sick.

We can think we’re right when we’re actually turning in the wrong direction.

We can think we’re wise when we’re actually fooling ourselves.

We can think we’re loving when we’re actually becoming hateful.

We can be so upset about what “those guys” are saying or doing that we say and do some unhelpful things ourselves.

The risk is greater when powerful people and parties win votes, gain followers, attract viewers, and make big money by making us all more more afraid, resentful, suspicious, critical (of “them” but not “us”), and even hateful.

That’s why many of us are making this bold choice: to use every hateful word and harmful act from others as a challenge to become more loving ourselves.

It brings to mind something Jesus said (a loose paraphrase of Matthew 5:38-48):

If you love people who love you, what’s the big deal about that? Crooks and dictators love people who love them!

If you treat people with respect as long as they are just like you and agree with you – so what? Terrorists and human traffickers are good to their partners in crime!

It’s no big deal for Republicans to love Republicans or Democrats to love Democrats. It’s no big deal for white people to love white people or Christians to love Christians.

The real challenge in times like these is to love people who are different.

People who are voting for the other party.

People who listen to news on the other cable channel.

People who have a different opinion about Black Lives Matter or Global Warming or what to do about Isis or gay marriage.

People who are spreading hate and suspicion and don’t even realize it.

People who are as passionately committed to their religion as you are to yours.

Do you want to do something truly revolutionary this election season? Then make it your highest ambition to become a truly loving person. And join us this week in learning to love beyond. Because love becomes powerful when it moves beyond.

Beyond “me” to “us.”

Beyond “us” to “all of us.”

Beyond “all of us” to “all creation.”

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and former pastor. His new book is called The Great Spiritual Migration. You can learn more about him here: www.brianmclaren.net