A while back I had the opportunity to serve communion. I was not particularly excited about the job. It was just another Christian ritual that had melted into the mundane. About half way through serving communion, I began to feel something amazing: love.
As I was saying to the people who received their grape juice, “the blood of Christ shed for you,” I began to really understand what I was saying. I was saying, “Jesus died for you. God loves you. You are valuable. I love you.” Communion, for me, became a moment to recognize the value and beauty of everyone I encountered during that moment. “Recognize” in the last sentence is not the right word. It was not a proposition that I cognized. It was an experience of the beauty and value of everyone. And if God is love, then it was an experience of the Divine too.
This experience of Love is not where I live on a daily basis. And that brings me to the hippiest Christian music video of all time (the one at the beginning of this post). This is a video that challenges religious and cultural convention. Love is, often times, reserved for whom we see as the lovable, which probably has a lot to do with whom society has told us are the winners.
Gungor and my communion experience are bumping against an answer to a Euthryphroian question here: Is someone loved because they are lovable? Or is someone lovable because they are loved? (In Rob Bell’s words, does love make someone beautiful? or do we love because someone is beautiful?)
Years before my communion experience, I experienced the antithesis of what I felt during communion: disgust. I had discovered “what was in man [even Christians],” and I did not like what I saw. When I found that the hallowed ground that I had been worshiping on was actually profane, when I found that the people I had been “worshiping” with actually had no desire to worship at all, I was ready to abandon the Christian enterprise all together.
(A parenthetical point of interest: in both experiences there was a connection between my feelings about people and my feelings about God. The only difference is that one feeling was from the bottom up (because I hated people, I wanted to abandon God) and another feeling was from the top down (because I said that God “died” for others, I wanted to love them.)
I am just as crappy as everyone that I was disgusted by, yet I found them to be unlovable. In that communion moment, I loved the same people that I was disgusted with (Unjustifiably so, as I mentioned before, not only because I suck too, but because I overgeneralized my experience of crappy Christians.) years back, and because of this, the disgust was gone. They became lovable again.
This is nonsense. If lovable means “able to be loved,” then how can someone become “able to be loved” by being loved? They can’t, which is why designating someone as lovable or unlovable does not make sense for those who seek to be like Love.
As disciples, “lovable” is a word that does not belong in our vocabulary, and if we remove this word from of vocabulary, then egoistic and cultural conventions have no sway over us. A part of me says, “that person can not be loved/does not deserve your love.” This does not happen on a cognitive level. This statement is never turned into a proposition. It is an attitude, a mode experience.
I want to experience this ridiculous Love, but I am going to need Your help, God, the One who is Love.