Dr. Andy Pate
The Orange Leader
"Love God, then do as you please."
The great Saint Augustine's truism rings as true in 2013 as it did in 413, at the height of his brilliant ministry. In seven words he summed up the heart of the Christian faith. Since Jesus and Paul, no one has said it better.
But loving God is no easier today than it was sixteen centuries ago, nor is making and holding the peace, ridding the world of crime and corruption, nor controlling the weather. Every day love is challenged, from sunrise to sunset and bedtime, and ofttimes after that.
Here's the clincher, however. Nothing's better than to love and be loved. Nothing thrills us or inspires us more. And there is nothing else that we would desire the least to live without. Love is the fount, the blessing, the supreme quality to experience in the whole of living.
So, why do we hate, hurt, despise and reject one another, even to the point of lying about and cheating on the persons we claim to love the most?
Because we're human? And humans sin? Yes, of course. But how do we stop this sinning stuff? Back to Saint Augustine.
You never cease loving God. If you do, you return to loving God And again your supreme pleasure is to do the right thing; forgive, extend comfort, overcome adversity, serve others and, yes, sacrifice for those less fortunate.
But, Preacher, there's a war on, and another coming, if not soon, down the road for sure.
This "loving God" talk won't stop a bullet or prevent a bombing of innocents. Maybe we should toughen up and show everybody we can be the meanest people on earth?
We can do that. We have. And we likely will again, stop talking, that is, and deal forcefully with the Sin that threatens our loving.
In the end, though, Saint Augustine wins. He spoke the truth. Loving God is what living is supremely all about, essentially the same point Jesus made when, on his last night, he advised his closest disciples, "Friends, love one another, even as I have loved you (John 13:34)."