Let me build on the very, very fine discussion taking place in “Comments”. Juan laid the foundation observing that our lifestyle gives witness to the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Bob suggested that lifestyle is necessarily divided into worship and ethics. Anne pointed to the need for community, succinctly defining its role as giving support and accountability. All the commentators agree with Bob that the overarching Christian ethical principle is love for all (even your enemies). However, Marland pointed out this is a tough love and warned we have to avoid the “Lutheran curse” of making people feel they are “not good enough”. He suggested we do that when we base all on love not fear.
I was reminded how important these insights are when two of my pastors preached series on “Behave as if you Believe” this summer. They forced me to remember that Jesus goes beyond other religions in proclaiming God is a father and we are all brothers and sisters.
Using the standard of this unconditional love enables us creatively to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in our time, as Juan counseled. Bob observed it is still difficult to know for certain “if we are doing the right thing?” We always need to share our perspectives with others in the community and to remember together the lessons from our tradition (Anne’s support and accountability). The reaction to the recent Lutheran study on human sexuality illustrates how difficult this can be. We seldom find certainty in this world. Faith, hope, and love are always related
I think we can agree our lifestyle includes participating in the Church where Word and Sacrament are found. I propose this kind of community establishes priorities rather than imposes rigid rules. Let me suggest a few:
1. Working on co-operation rather than competition. Sharing our gifts. Not insisting on our own ways. Working for the common good rather than only personal happiness, even if this means self-denial and sacrifice.
2. Taking special care of the weak and vulnerable. Making the care of the needy our standard for justice.
3. Building up rather than tearing down. Seeking to give more than we take.
4. Serving the family and nation without making them idols.
6. Giving priority to the local and everyday, the real rather than the virtual.
7. Avoiding self- contempt. Loving neighbor as we love ourselves calls for healthy self- esteem.
Does proclaiming the Church as the Body of Christ mean as Teresa of Avila said “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the world; yours are the feet by which he is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands by which he is to bless people now”? Does confessing the “catholic Church” mean we must move beyond the natural boundaries of family and nation and love everyone the same way? Does emphasizing love of “neighbor” mean we have the greatest responsibility to those with whom we live “face to face”.