I have been doing a lot of cooking lately and I must say that I am getting pretty good at it, aside from a few bumps in the road. Each morning I make a couple of eggs, maybe some toast, or a bit of French toast, when the time is right. And I love to use one of our new toys- a Belgium waffle maker. I have been getting a pretty big head, you know, starting to enter myself into Iron Chef contention, until the other day. It turns out my real strength, when it comes to food, comes not so much from cooking it, as it does talking about it. I may work in a restaurant, but I am in the Front of the House. I sell food let other people cook it. And so I was reminded.
I had everything I needed to execute the perfect waffle. I had the flour, I had the sugar, I had the baking soda, I had the milk, and I had the waffle iron heating up. I had everything, it turns out, except for the egg. As I stirred up what I had, I was reminded of the importance of having each ingredient in place. I could have stirred all day, but without the egg, a waffle would never have materialized.
Sometimes I feel like this is the same way I treat love. I throw some goodness together with a little hospitality, with a little service, and maybe a bit of patience, and voila! Genuine love! It all sounds great, but for someone like me, much more a novice in the ways of love than in the ways of waffle making, I need a recipe. I need to know what ingredients are necessary.
Fortunately, God refers to himself as love. He knows what it takes to love, to live life born of a woman, subject to his creation. He alone knows what it means to live for his people, and to lay his life down for us. In his letter to the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul tells us what it takes to love.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil…
In a conversation drawing out the specifics, we may say the ingredients, of love, why would we expect Paul to begin with a directive to hate evil? It seems so out of place. Who thinks to start with a hatred of evil on the way to love?
And yet there it is, in plain black and white. Waffles require eggs. Love requires hate. As a concept, this is repulsive. But in a story, this is undeniable.
For years now in Uganda, there has been a warlord named Joseph Kony. His name is now familiar to us, having been the target of the founders of Invisible Children, a non-profit organization whose stated goal is to bring a permanent end to LRA (Lords Resistance Army) atrocities. Kony, the leader of the LRA, a militia group in Central Africa, has been well-known for capturing children and forcing them into sexual and militant slavery. This May, Ugandan officials captured him, thanks, in part to the international awareness brought about by the campaign set up by Invisible Children, which called for his arrest and judgment.
Is it possible to hear this story without hatred arising in your heart? Can you be honest enough to admit your hatred of the evil perpetrated by a man who would prey on the innocent children around him? Can you hear his story and remain neutral- emotionally disconnected- or can you admit at least the smallest kernel of hatred? How can you take love seriously if it has no space for outrage at the victimization of innocents?
Now, this is just the beginning, but it has to be considered if we are going to have the slightest chance of becoming a people who love. We must hate evil.
There is no place in the kingdom for a Front of the House position. We cannot expect to talk about love and become a people who love. We have to make concrete steps in the direction of aligning our sentiments with the God who calls himself love
Paul begins the recipe for love with the most unlikely of ingredients- hate. But the more we look back on the life of the people of God, we see that he is not saying anything new.
Are you going to keep mixing up ingredients of charity, kindness, goodness, niceness, and call that love? Or will you be bold enough to look back to the recipe and see if you are missing something?