A couple days ago I mentioned three concrete areas where love is lived out: how we relate to ourselves, our closest companions and our community. These are three very different arenas of loving. Although the overarching principles of love apply, the specifics are dependent on the circumstance. Here is the general principle as stated by Jesus:
34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
~ Matthew 22:34-40 CEB
During basketball season this past year Pete and I had the good fortune of attending the University of Richmond versus Virginia Commonwealth University basketball game on the University of Richmond campus. It was a good game, seeing as how our dog wasn’t in the fight. If you were a VCU fan, you loved the first half but for those U of R Spiders, they loved the last second victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. As mostly objective observers who have reasons to love both teams we were able to nonjudgmentally observe the crowd around us.
It was...interesting. People did not always behave in a manner consistent with their ages. This was a social setting, and as such, I would suggest that fan behavior might have been modified with this fact in mind. Love is like this. In the privacy of one’s own home, love might look like tolerating the insane behavior of a rabid fan. To accommodate this very issue I lovingly removed the ceiling fan in our den after Pete jumped up and hit his head on it one times too many to stay healthy; I considered it a McBean family concussion prevention measure. Love in the social setting, especially when you are the rival or you as the home team fan notice that rival fans are sitting in front of you, might mean toning it down or at least not acting like a fool. The game isn’t over until it is over. Raucous jeering of the opponent too soon is just plain unsafe. Problem numero uno: loving others well is venue dependent. We have missed this distinction at times, resulting in poor outcomes.
That being said, if we practice the principle of treating all people with respect, we can avoid a lot of issues regardless of the venue. I know that sports loyalty runs wide and deep for many. But a spiritual life requires a constant reflection on what runs THE MOST DEEP within us. What are our core values? For people of faith, Jesus has stated the top two. We must wrestle with what this looks like in all venues, all the time, even at sporting events. What about you? Is there a particular “venue” where you struggle? Respecting yourself? Your intimate relationships? Getting along in a group?