Someone has said that life isn’t a problem to be solved, it’s an adventure to be lived. One can extend this concept to ones personal relationships. My spouse, and how we live together, isn’t a problem to be solved. My spouse is a blessing to be loved. Our children and the people who depend upon my nuture, aren't problems to be solved. My church isn’t a problem for my denominational leader to solve. Even if the church decides to burn me at the stake and renege on their mission share (denominational apportionments). They are a congregation of Christians, who deserve support as they form a nurturing fellowship that works for them, require the sacraments, and should be respected for their missional vision. So, I ask the question, “Does my district superintendent (denominational overseer) love my church?”
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors. He said this in a time in which neighbors depended upon each other. There wasn’t a police force in the villages of first century Galilee. We are called to love those who depend upon us. This means our spouse, our children and close relations, our friends, and those we are personally responsible for at work. We are not called to think of them as problems to be solved. In fact, relationships can either be founded on love or founded on contractional obligations. The contractor who fixes my roof, isn’t obligated to love my house or my family. The roof is a problem for him to solve. He can’t be a lover and a contractor.
Jesus connects Christian service with loving ones neighbor. He says this in front of the religious leaders of his day. The Palestinian people depended upon them for spiritual guidance. But, the leaders saw the peasants of Galilee as a problem. They didn’t love these people. Jesus tries to clarify this love of neighbor issue, by speaking about a Good Samaritan. The priest and the levite saw the broken man as a problem that interrupted their important work. But the Samaritan, had compassion (Luke 10:33). The Samaritan saw the beaten man as someone who depended upon him. This made the stranger his neighbor. He loved his neighbor. So, I ask the question, “Does my district superintendent (denominational overseer) love my church?”
Looking back over the various District Superintendents I’ve had, I made an interesting discovery. Many didn’t love the church I was pastoring. They approached every interchange with the people of my congregation as if it were a problem to be solved. They emphasized the importance of tough leadership. I enjoyed their business savvy and felt supported as I shared my issues with them.
I had one District Superintendent, whom I considered to be totally incompetent. I would go to him with the problems I was having with the people, and he would ask, “How is so and so, doing?” He refused to see the people as a problem. He had a big heart. Charge Conferences (annual meetings) with him, were like old home week. It has taken me twenty years to realize that he was the he was one of the best District Superintendents I ever had.
What is it about Love?