By Mark RodgersWhether Christian or not, one must acknowledge that the “reason for the season” was the radical claim that “For God so loved the world that He sent His only son,” as John, the Apostle, wrote in his Gospel.This was no ordinary love. J.R.R. Tolkien helped convince C. S. Lewis of this, who later wrote: “As myth transcends thought, Incarnation transcends myth. The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact.”For those of us who believe this to be true, how, in response to this of extraordinary exhibition of love, can we do any less? How can we claim to love God, but not love the world and our neighbor? I was reminded of ordinary love when reflecting on Time Magazine’s selection of Pope Francis as Man of the Year. The profile points out that while holding on to the Church’s traditionalist views on sexuality and abortion, Pope Francis has won “converts” with his radical expressions of love for the least of these -- washing the feet of incarcerated juveniles, or embracing a man with a deformed face.At the heart of the Good News is that God loves each of us, and at the heart of each Christian should be love for our neighbor.C. S. Lewis, who died 50 years ago, wrote in The Weight of Glory, “It may be possible for each an to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor … There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal.”It is “ordinary love” -- faithful, kind and generous love -- for our neighbor that is a true testimony to our love for God. There is nothing more, I believe, that misrepresents Christ than when a Christian does not treat others, especially his enemy, with love.I see this especially in politics, when people who claim to be followers of Jesus actually model intolerance, incivility and hatred. When Bill Gates writes his confession in Wired Magazine that “I believe that every life is valuable”, how can we chose to vilify him rather than find ways to work with him? How can we oppose funding for AIDS that keeps people alive, while opposing abortion to let children be born alive?Several years ago I helped put together a small gathering of contemporary Christian music artists to meet with Bono to discuss the AIDS epidemic. At the conclusion of the meeting, Bono picked up a guitar and led the group in a familiar camp song from his (and my) youth: “They will know we are Christians by our love.”It didn’t surprise me, therefore, that the new U2 song in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life is an ode to the necessity of “ordinary” love … a reflection of the love born on Christmas day.
“We can't fall any furtherIf we can't feel ordinary loveWe cannot reach any higherIf we can't deal with ordinary love” (U2, Ordinary Love)