A few weeks ago, at a diocesan service, the Bishop was conferring the blessing when one phrase especially caught me. I’ve heard those words before, and God willing I will hear them again, but one line has stayed with me.
“Love with courage.”
These three simple words are not just a nice concept, nor an invitation, but a direction: courageous loving is how we, as Christ’s followers, are meant to go out and encounter the world.
We are called to love, even when we do not like; we’re called to love, even when it is awkward; we are called to love, even when it is not socially ideal; we are called to love, even when it’s uncomfortable; we are called to love, even when it is inconvenient.
When we respond to this call, we are seeking to share that unconditional agape love; we are putting our faith into action, we are becoming those who serve. It’s shocking, it’s unsettling, it’s gritty and earthy and real.
And it follows the example that Christ himself gave to his disciples, to his followers, from that day to this. Jesus’ miracles were shockingly counter-cultural: his changing of water into best wine at the wedding at Cana; his willingness to be ritually defiled by healing (the hemorrhagic woman/on the sabbath/almost any healing story); the teaching in the Temple; culturally demeaning himself to wash his disciples’ feet; &c.
There are many more examples where we can see Jesus loving, serving, teaching, inspiring. These actions shocked the disciples, when Jesus put love ahead of laws or custom or tradition. It changed who they were and how they viewed one another and the world. It influenced their ministry as they too went into the world, to love with courage, as they had been taught.
Jesus loved and served, courageously, because it was the right thing to do. May we, his followers, be shocked and inspired, jostled outside of our own comfort zones, to shift from a preference of being served toward an attitude of loving service.
The call is there, for all of us. Love: fully, completely, illogically, genuinely. Love as Christ first loved us, love as the world so often does not, love as Christians have for millennia. Love with courage.