On Love

photo (5)Love God. Love people. Love the city.

Sounds good. But hard.

For some reason I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that I am supposed to bootstrap this. Despite my reading and re-reading C.S. Lewis, the notion of love as niceness and warm-fuzzy feelings persists and poisons my efforts. I can’t manufacture emotions.

When I think of lost babies and barren wombs, I can’t make myself feel affection for God, who could fix it. When I think of cliques and snubs, I feel as if church is just one more social club to which I’ll never belong. When I drive past homeless people sleeping near stinking piles of garbage, I want to breathe fresh air far outside the city limits.

So how am I supposed to love God, people, and the city?

I think it has something to do with the paradigm shift God has implemented in my life over the past few years. My old ideas of what love is have been washed away. (Maybe sandblasted would be a more apt description.) But He has made it clear that He is love. And that His love involves grace, suffering, and freedom.

So what does that mean for someone who is as terrible as I am at loving God, people, and the city? Honestly, I don’t really know. I’m trying to figure it out. So far, some might say it has looked disturbingly like antinomianism in my life. Jesus pulled me out of such a dark, suffocating pit that I feel like I am still gasping for air. And I don’t have a moment to waste on looking proper and correct. I just want to live whatever crazy, beautiful plan He has for me. I don’t want to throw rocks at anyone because He didn’t throw any at me.

I think loving God, people, and the city looks different for each of us. But fundamentally we need Him to do it for us and through us. I can’t love well, but He can. He can open my eyes to see people as He sees them. He can give me the grace to pass on to those who hurt me. He can love anyone and everyone. I know, because He loves me.

So if you go to City Pres – or if you don’t – and I fail to love you well, please forgive me. I’m still figuring this out and counting on grace alone through Christ alone to get it right.

Alison Buxton