So, a few days ago, I was reminded of my teenage years of listening exclusively to CCM and NPR on the radio, and I happened to remember one of the songs that got played fairly frequently having a part that went like this: Alright, okay/We could load the van up/with our things today/Take it all to Good Will/But still/We might as well/just dump in a big landfill/If love is nowhere.
Now, thing is, the song is, essentially, a retelling of the verses from 1 Corinthians 13 wherein Paul gives a long list of really awesome stuff that you could do or possess, but then points out that if you don’t love, then you have nothing.
However, this particular verse, while a good reminder that doing good stuff for folks doesn’t necessarily make you a good person, has a really lousy practical application. Or, to put it another way, it’s only a viable notion to follow if the primary purpose of doing good stuff is to get you in good with God–that is to say, works righteousness.
Here’s what I mean.
The song is trying to point out that love–hopefully the biblical definition rather than the currently predominant one in our society–is the sine qua non of the Christian life, and really life in general. This is good. However, the fact is that, in reality, except so far as your own personal goodness is concerned, the world is better off if you give your extra stuff–or just your stuff–to people who need it and can’t afford it as opposed to throwing it away, because throwing stuff away tends to make it difficult to reuse. And, frankly, this ends up leading to other people receiving less help or no help, while you are still out all your stuff.
Oh, and you’re now self-righteous about not doing something without love.
This is not good.
If something is right to do, but you don’t feel like doing it, don’t let that stop you, m’kay?
‘Til next time,
Lowell Van Ness