By Rev. O.L. Johnson
Why is there such a proliferation of deaths from mass shootings in our country today? I have heard a variety of answers to the question, all the way from mental illness of the shooter to intense hatred for one ethnic group or another. I have no argument with either answer. I’m sure each can be identified as the cause in a number of isolated cases.
But I ran across another possible cause as I was reading a Sunday school lesson a few months ago. The subject of the lesson was love; but not just any kind of love. Its focus was “Christian love,” a brand of love that few people practice in daily life, because few have allowed Christian love to reside in their hearts. Those who do not have a “heart” problem.
Those afflicted with this problem are more prone to engage in the behavior we are addressing here. So in order to help solve this problem, we would like to share some of the content of the aforementioned Sunday school lesson. Christian love is unique in that it has no resemblance to how most of us in society describe love. Let’s call it “popular love” in our discussion.
Popular love has its roots on whether or not there is a physical attraction between people which ultimately leads to romantic feelings and behavior. In other words, popular love is conditioned on other factors such as physical appearance, or one’s economic status. Christian love has no such intervening factors; it is totally unconditional and based on the words of Christ.
Jesus commands that all his followers love one another unconditionally, as he loves them, a love he described as his “new commandment.” Thereafter, he expanded on this commandment to include all those who are not counted within his followers.
So this expanded commandment is universal, all-inclusive and requires us all to love one another unconditionally.
Unfortunately, most of us on the planet do not obey Jesus’ new commandment, which is the basic reason for the absence of love in the hearts of men. And, as long as this condition persists, popular love, and not Christian love, will prevail.
So, what are we to do? Is there a solution in sight for this problem? The answer is yes, but it’s not a quick-fix solution. It’s time-consuming.
This solution has been around for centuries; and, it lies squarely at the feet of the believers in Christ, then and now. Before the Holy Spirit came on the scene and the church was established, Jesus told the apostles that “ye shall be my witnesses … unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts1:8). This command has been in effect since then until now.
Over the centuries, Christians have done a great job in growing the church to its present-day size, but in view of the problem outlined here, we have more work to do to solve our heart problem. Each of us individually can increase our witnessing, putting our focus and emphasis on teaching the difference between Christian and popular love, and encouraging heart residency of love.
Although we’re suggesting that we work individually, we will not be working alone. If we follow Christ’s lead we find in Acts1:8, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit which became available to us when we accepted Jesus as our lord and savior. Our solution is Christian love among men.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column appears monthly in The Wave and on its website, www.wavepublication.com.