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Midweek Musing 9/14/23 - A Non-negotiable

When I was growing up, I remember that a trip to McDonalds was a treat. I also remember that the choice of places to go were few. Unlike today the fast-food industry in most towns had very little competition. As such, what I also remember is that when I ordered a quarter pounder or hamburger the only choice I could make was if it had cheese or not. By the way, it always did. Of course, the cheese addition was only a nickel or maybe a dime. That said I was not a fan of pickles or onions or mustard. In order to deal with that I could either scrape it off and add ketchup to mask the mustard or deal with it. Then a new restaurant opened called Burger King. Its motto was “Have it your way.” Suddenly you could order your burger with the toppings you wanted – specific to your very own preferences. McDonalds tried to stay true to its like it or don’t philosophy, but it did not last. Of course, today you can basically create your own menu and order it directly from an app on your phone. However, additional toppings cost lots more than a dime. This have it your way concept has become a part of much of life for both good and bad. Lots of our life has become customizable and some folks want to make everything a choice including following laws or being a member of civil society. Some of this have it your way insistence I believe is damaging our communities and I could get on my personal soapbox about some of these areas but that is not what these musings are for. Instead, I want to mention some things that are not on the options menu for Christianity. There have been those who have tried to put restrictions or limits on these but if I understand the Biblical text and its teachings, I have not found any limits on this list. Love God. Love others. Recall that scripture also declares plainly that love is not simply a flowery word but an action. As 1st John declares, “Little children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18 NRSV) And remember that as Paul wrote so eloquently, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable; it keeps no record of wrongs; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” It is not Love is patient unless… Or Love is kind except for the following… Or Love does not allow us to insist on our own way except if it is my way… Or love continues forever unless they do x, y, or z and then we get to forget it! No love is an absolute and it is the true call of God’s people. Again, as the first letter of John declares, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” While lots of things are good to make your own way including a double cheeseburger with ketchup only (which is my way.) Loving God and others unconditionally is the only way for followers of Christ to live. -- Clay Gunter


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