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Love, the Religion of Jesus

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ― James Baldwin

Growing up, the one behavior my father hated most from his children was lying. If we did something wrong, we would be punished – usually a good scold and then sent to our rooms – but if there was a lie associated with any wrongdoing? Watch out! The punishment was always way worse - often involving spanking (it was the 70’s after all)!

Teaching children about lies is hard. There are the well-intentioned untruths, like when a child asks how you like their mismatched loud outfit which they obviously love! “Yes, it’s pretty awesome!” And then there are lies that cause harm, like when a child tells the school that they are not supposed to ride the bus home, when in fact they are, causing a slight panic for the parent when the child does not exit the bus at their stop. (These may or may not be recent personal examples).

Although teaching children about lies is hard, it is necessary. Just look at the world around us and how so many people of all ages believe and spread lies - the harmful, even hateful, ones.

• Lies about the superiority of whiteness, Christianity, and the one-two punch “White Christianity.”

• Lies about our nation’s history of racial discrimination and how the captivity and slavery of Black men, women and children played a huge role in the prosperity of others…and how others still prosper at the expense of others.

• Lies about dangerous illegal immigrants coming to steal your jobs, traffic drugs, and just be a drag on American society.

• Lies about the unworthiness for those who identify as LBGTQI+ and how they are an abomination to God.

• Lies about women using abortion as means of perpetual birth control, or how women are at fault if they are raped, battered, or abused.

Like it or not, these, and other lies, shape and form the world in which we live and the world which we are making into being. They are affecting us. We can not sit idly on the sidelines allowing harmful untruths to foster fear, hate, and just plain-crazy-talk in our hearts, minds, and whole being.

Rev. Jackie Lewis, author of Fierce Love, said recently during the United Church of Christ’s Emerging Church Summit, “We must dismantle lies with the truth of our conviction that LOVE is the religion of Jesus.” And one of the ways in which we live out this religion of love is to face the world head on. Face the lies. Face the people spreading the lies. Even face ourselves for the lies (both unintentional and intentional) we hold. For no matter how “woke” we are (or think we are), there is always more “wokeness” to be and become. God’s kin-dom depends on it for we cannot change the world unless we really see the world.

By: Rev. Nikki Stahl, Heart of Texas Association Minister


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