I sometimes wonder if love is enough. Is love enough to turn division into unity? Is love enough to transform distrust? Is love enough to turn an enemy into a friend? Is love enough to turn a vitriolic nation into one that can work together for the common good? Is love enough?
After any kind of tragic event, and especially events with displays of violence, destruction and hate, as we saw with the events at our nation’s Capitol, I see pleas plastered on social media to “love one another.” I think to myself as I scroll, “But is love enough?”
Idealized notions of loving our neighbor do not seem to be enough. They seem to be mere superficial sentiments. Because saying “love your neighbor” does not necessarily lead to actually loving your neighbor.
Saying “everyone is made in the image of God” does not actually mean everyone is treated as though they are equally and unequivocally made in the image of God.
These calls for love feel like a warm blanket that quickly brings comfort but does little to resolve the problems you feel overwhelming you inside.
Is love enough? Well, I do not think that particular kind of love is enough to do much of anything, except maybe to make us feel comfortable for a few moments.
Thankfully, those of us in the Christian faith are shown a love that offers more than a weighted blanket. We are shown love in the reality of God in human flesh hanging from a cross. There is nothing comfortable about that image. The love we find in Jesus Christ is one that is never a mere kind thought but one that confronts the hard stuff.
It confronts our uncomfortable feelings when we hear news that does not align with our one-track-mind beliefs. It confronts the feeling we get of our blood boiling over a comment by a neighbor we used to call friend. It confronts us as part of the problem and not just “them” as the problem.
This love is hard work and constant work. It gives up sentiment for the real thing: Knowing that real love sometimes requires going to the depths of the grave to bring hope and healing.
And this love requires humility and lament, confession and forgiveness. It requires us to acknowledge the ways we have contributed to a nation that cares more about party than people, the ways we’ve devoured friends who disagree with us, and the ways we have denied a history that has bubbled up into protests of all stripes.
So if asked, “Is love enough?” my answer must be “Absolutely.” But it must be the kind of love Jesus showed us, a love that might take us to the grave before granting us new life. I hope you’ll join me in choosing a love that changes the world, and might change you and me in the process – a love that is enough.
Stephanie Dion is the associate pastor at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton. LowcountryPres.org