William Edelen: Many Who Say, “Lord, Lord,” Ignore Jesus’ Message of Love…


The Contrary Minister

What they have done in the past to the beautiful teacher of Galilee is almost beyond comprehension. And, worse, we still continue to this day violating and prostituting both him and his message; or we bury him in theological tombs and roll great stones before the door.

Constantine worshiped the official Christ saying, “Lord, Lord,” while murdering his own wife, his son and other assorted relatives. Martin Luther worshiped Christ saying, “Lord, Lord,” while telling the German aristocracy to cut the throats of the German peasants. He added, “Let there be no half measures. Transfix them. Leave no stone unturned! To kill a rebel is to destroy a mad dog. A prince can enter heaven by the shedding of blood more certainly than by means of prayer.”

John Calvin worshiped Christ saying “Lord, Lord” while burning Servetus at the stake. Ordained ministers worshiped Christ saying, “Lord, Lord,” while murdering thousands of so-called witches.

John Wesley worshiped Christ saying, “Lord, Lord,” while writing to his wife: “Be content to be insignificant. Of what loss would it be to God or man had you never been born?”

As Albert Schweitzer gave his life, in love, to the sick and the suffering in the heart of Africa, he wrote, “What has been passing for Christianity during these centuries is full of mistakes and horrors. It has not been a Christianity springing from the spirit of love. What Christianity needs is to become a living religion of love.
We must lift the spirit of Jesus, which is the spirit of love, from all the trappings of dogma and doctrines created by the theologians of past centuries and let only the spirit of love become central for our lives. To do any little things in the spirit of love is to live in the spirit of Jesus.”

Which is the more difficult choice, to affirm certain theological creeds about Jesus and to repeat a memorized, pat, rote, parrot-like set of beliefs… or to live love? The answer seems obvious. Nothing could be easier, or take less effort, than rote-like recitation of memorized cliches and doctrinal creeds that fool us into thinking we are Christian. Nothing though could be more difficult than to take the main, primary, recurring theme of love in the teachings of Jesus… and live it. Nothing in this world is more difficult, demanding or challenging than to live love. “Is it a dream…?” Walt Whitman asked. “Nay… but the lack of it the dream.”

The spirit of Jesus comes to us directly in the impact of life loving life and holding all other life in reverence. It was never praise, adoration or idolizing that Jesus asked for or wanted. Great personalities find that abhorrent. It was simply his cause supported.

He asked that he “be followed,” not idolized. Idolization is easy. Following, in the spirit of love, is the most demanding and difficult option we could have been given.

The same words, “Thou shalt love,” are said to us today, to be interpreted and made valid in our own time. The same word said to those of old by the lakeside, “Thou shalt love… follow me,” is said to us. Those who rekindle such a divine and sublime ethic and allow it to burn bright in their own lives, in their own time, will not be far from the Kingdom of God, even as Jesus said. And the “immortal, invisible light inaccessible” no longer will be hidden from our eyes.