Striving for the power of love


By Rev. O.L. Johnson

Religion Columnist

I have to give President Donald Trump credit. He has been able to do something in my life that no other president has been able to do. He alone is responsible for my new interest in national politics.

I’ve never been a political animal, but when I observed his presidency and how he was able to capture the Republican Party through lies, denial and deceit, I admittedly was amazed.

At first, I was amused at how easily he bent the will and the thinking processes of a significant percentage of the populace, until the coronavirus showed up and I saw his lack of response to its threat. Then it all ceased to be amusing. I was stunned by his continual downplaying of the seriousness of the pandemic in view of the hundreds of thousands of deaths it caused nationwide.

His eventual answer to COVID-19 was even more stunning — just ignore all expert medical advice while ensuring the people that the virus was under control. “Business as usual” was his battle cry as he sponsored super-spreader rallies while encouraging the idiotic “herd immunity” mentality. But, in fairness I cannot place all the blame on him.

Although he created the atmosphere that led us into this mess we’re in today, all those who followed his lead must share the blame with him. None of them were forced — they willingly decided to hitch a ride on his political bandwagon. I sat back and watched all this unfold and asked myself one question — what motivated them to consider 260,000-plus deaths as acceptable?

As I pondered this question in light of the Holy Scriptures, it became clear to me that the basic problem in our nation is a desire to please self before any concern for the needs of others. In other words, love as described in God’s Word, is ignored. The world’s version of love, characterized by love of self, emotional attachments and the lust of the eyes, is the rule.

Many have swallowed the lie that we can continue to live as usual, have a gay old time as usual, pack ourselves in rooms and on beaches as usual, and the virus will just go away as quickly as it came. The fact that these acts are ripe for spreading the virus is of no concern. It has not occurred to us that putting others first in our thinking can reduce its spread nationwide.

The answer to our problem is an “other” mentality rather than a “self” mentality, or to adopt “Christian” love as a way of life. Putting the welfare of others first is the cornerstone of Christian love. If we ever learn to put it into practice, we would not be so quick to subject others to the possibility of coronavirus infection through super-spreader events.

I hear you. I agree that these events are perfectly legal; but, consider God’s advice on the issue of legality of our actions found in 1Corinthians 10:23: all things may be legal, but not all things are either profitable or edifying. In the next verse, he tells us “let no man seek his own,” in other words, give thought to the impact your decisions may have on others.

Another way of saying “be other-minded.” Practice Christian love in your everyday walk. Your neighbors will love you for it. Love never fails.

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,