Strange Mercy

"... and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

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Location: Mid-Atlantic Sprawl, United States

I'm a former idealist turned 'defensive pessimist' who has concluded, after living on two coasts, two continents, and an island, that most of us spend our lives as prey, economically and psychologically. Awareness is the key to understanding this; but once we understand it, we may transcend it, choosing, when we can, to be neither prey nor predator.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Love Is Conditional

Oh, yes it is.

Speak not to me of mothers bending with utmost tenderness over their gummy-smiled babes.

They will not bend so over a stranger's child - not for long. They love their child as they do because it is theirs - whether by birth or adoption, it is theirs.

Speak not to me of elderly couples toddling hand in hand into the sunset.

They may continue together because of habit and quiet custom, not because of undying love. They may have remained together because they are more afraid of being alone. And it is not our place to blame them, for so, in time, may we.

Speak not to me of man's love for his animals.

He does not love the wild ones he squashes on the highways. And when his tame ones cease to be tame, he quickly turns from loving them. The old, the infirm, the no longer housebroken... are they loved unconditionally?

Speak not to me of the love of a child for her parents.

If they abuse her, if they molest her, if they burn her with cigarette butts and feed her scraps and garbage... and if by some miracle she survives to adulthood and can live free of them... shall she love them blindly and be termed sane?

Love is conditional. Yes, even the love of God.

God loves us because we are His. He loves us because He called us into being, as He loves the whole of creation, as He loves His own tripartite nature.

Let us rejoice and give thanks that love is conditional.

Let us praise God that He loves us because we are His; that He loves us because we love Him; that he seeks and hopes and longs to be reunited with all of us, even with those of us who prefer to hate Him and all that He has made,

but that His love will not extend so far as to inflict that hating upon the rest of us for all eternity.

Here on earth, we spend our days in an unconditional world. The rain falls on the just and on the unjust; the good die young, while the bad die old and rich, and the innocent die beneath auto tires on the interstate every day.

We consider Job remarkable not merely because of the losses he endured, but because he lived an exemplary life - and still had so much to lose. We know, even if we do not like to admit, that goodness is not rewarded, evil is not punished, the things that should be evidence of love are not conditionally given -- here.

We consider Christ remarkable not merely because of His great sacrifice, but because He made that sacrifice knowing well that many would never truly wish to claim it.

[I do not speak here of those who do not know of it, nor do I speak of those who believe with all their hearts and souls and strength that they are serving God best by serving Him in other faith traditions. I speak of those who know Christ and His works, and pretend to follow Him while scorning all He stands for; those who sell Him like a commodity and display Him like a brand.]

Let us be grateful all the days of our lives that God loves conditionally, and that His Strange Mercy can therefore accept our imperfect and conditional love as adequate to His needs. For "... what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

And let us be grateful all the days of our lives that the final abode of Love, though open to both the perfect and the broken, to those who strove and failed as well as those who triumphed,

will not be, as our current abode so clearly is,

unconditionally open to Hate.

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