The Head and the Heart
2 John 1:4,5 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth…And now I ask you… that we love one another.
As I wrote a few days ago, God is a perfect balance of both love and truth. As we have been made in his image, we too have this head and heart, though much less balanced I think. It is this imbalance that John writes of in today’s passage. He saw, I believe, that most of us tend to be weighted more heavily in one direction or the other.
As balanced as I like to think I am, I usually err, either embracing love and abandoning truth or clinging to truth and abandoning love. Love without truth however, is chaos. Blind pursuit of desire without boundaries sounds fun but leads to destruction. Truth without love though, is cold, legalistic tyranny. It may make for a disciplined life, but it robs of grace, mercy and everything beautiful in life.
So what does it look like when I embrace truth and abandon love? When I embrace only truth, I find it is my job to carry it to the world no matter how hateful it makes me. If I do not know how to love, I will insist that telling the truth is the most loving thing that I can do. I then no longer have to love my neighbor, I will just truth him. When truth becomes synonymous with love, I no longer have to feed the poor, clothe the naked or visit those in prison. I can just tell them the cold, brutal truth. I justify hating those I see as wrong.
What then does love without truth look like? It looks like I am doing whatever I want because there are no rules except follow my heart. If my heart says I love you but I change my mind tomorrow, it cannot be helped because my heart says so. It means I do not have to do anything my heart does not want because I make the rules. It means I can engage in any behavior, no matter how destructive to you or me, because that is what my heart wants. If I love a thing or person, I pursue it. No truth. No rules. Just passion, chaos and destruction.
John, in this passage points to Jesus and says that we need to follow his example as He was the perfect balance of truth and love. When confronted with the Pharisees and the woman caught in adultery, Jesus displayed this balance. He first saved the woman, disarming and scattering her accusers. Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7). Jesus loved her, but then He gave her the truth she desperately needed to hear. He did not condemn her, but He did absolutely insist that she quit her destructive behavior (John 8:11).
As Christians, I think we so often get this backwards. We expect the world to embrace our view of right and wrong before we are willing to love them. I will love you if you think like me. Jesus however, insisted that we love our neighbors despite their imperfections.
As it turns out, I have a few imperfections of my own. So, as usual, today I will work on abandoning my own defect and following Christ’s example.