This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “for.”
Because, while it’s important to take stands against things like lies and injustice and hypocrisy and abuse, it’s not enough to be against evil. It’s crucial to go further, and be for good.
I like the word “for.” It’s versatile word (conjunction, preposition and prefix) that appears in some of my favorite verses.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“For God so loved the world…”
“For” means that God wants what’s best for us. God champions us. God acts on our behalf out of an abundance of love.
In some theological circles, God is portrayed as a punitive deity who is easily angered, who hates lots of people and behaviors, who is sitting in wait for people to punish. That God is often against, but rarely for, anything (or anyone.)
But in sacred stories and passages, what we learn about God is that God is for us. God delights in us. God waits for us to come to the end of ourselves, and welcomes us with open arms when we turn toward home. God loves us in ways we can’t comprehend. God’s love is more abundant than the galaxy. God’s love is more tenacious than anything — even death.
In reality, God doesn’t spend a lot of energy being against; God goes hard after what God is for: mercy, forgiveness, love….us.
If we use Jesus’ teachings to answer What, Who, How and When, we’ll be able to see how we can champion good in our world.
What are we supposed to be for? Mercy. Forgiveness. Love. Gentleness. Patience. Goodness. Joy. Kindness. Peace. Truth.
Who are we supposed to be for? Our neighbors. Widows. Orphans. Refugees. People who are suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially and relationally.
How are we supposed to be for them? By putting them first and ourselves last. By loving them as much as Jesus loves us. By surrendering our privilege and power and rights to further theirs. By going out of our way to love our friends, neighbors and enemies well.
When are we supposed to be for the values and people God loves? Always. There’s never a time when we get to hit “pause” on Jesus’ values to pursue our own. There’s never a time when we’re supposed to prize our own well-being over that of other citizens of our world. There’s never a time when we get a pass on doing the hard, sacrificial work of loving the way God loves.