COMING TO know Christ can be likened to culture shock, when all the old ego-props are knocked down and the rug pulled out from under one’s feet. A maturing relationship with God involves the pain of continual self-confrontation as well as the joy of self-fulfillment, continual dying and rising again, continual rebirth, the dialectic of judgment and grace. For the first time in my life, I have begun to have the strength to face myself as I am without excuse—but equally important, without guilt. I know that I am sinful, but I could not bear this knowledge if I did not also know that I am accepted.
I now understand the profundity of 1 Corinthians 13, when Paul says that all that ultimately matters is love. Human endeavor without it is a “noisy gong or clanging cymbal.” One may have “prophetic power” (i.e., be a perceptive theologian), “understand all mysteries and all knowledge” (i.e., be an insightful intellectual), “give away” all one has or “deliver” one’s “body to be burned” (i.e., be a dedicated revolutionary), “have all faith, enough to move mountains” (i.e., be an inspiring preacher). But without love these are nothing, absolutely nothing. ...
“[The one] who does not know love does not know God; for God is love.” That sums it all up for me. Loving care for each other, sensitivity to each other’s needs, is the mark of true Christians.
Edith Black lived in Berkeley and worked with the Christian World Liberation Front when this article appeared in The Post-American, the precursor to Sojourners.
Image: Cymbal, matabum / Shutterstock.com