Text: I Corinthians 13
I begin with a trivia question. (Laura Foley you have a chance today to redeem yourself for not knowing the Abbott and Costello Who’s on First routine.) Who remembers the slogan coined by Flip Wilson in the 1970s? “The devil made me do it.” While I don’t know for certain, I imagine its roots are grounded in the biblical story of when Adam decided to blame Eve for his participation in eating from the forbidden tree thus followed by Eve then blaming the serpent; or as the serpent became known, the devil. The phrase, “the devil made me do it,” references those times when we give into temptation. I’m wondering this morning if there are things in your life that tempt you over and over again? Be careful and be honest. Think about it. I know I face temptations. And I’m dealing with one of mine this morning. It’s a temptation that I find difficult to resist, especially in trying times or when discussing hard topics like peace. I try, I do, to not get caught in this particular temptation but inevitably I fall into the trap, even when I’m making a conscious effort not to. Sometimes I just can’t help it. It is, at its worst, a “weakness of mind” and, at its best, an “exercise in futility.” And this temptation has nothing to do with Coco-Cola, Dolly Parton, or motorcycles. Are you curious? It is the temptation to oversimplify things—to not recognize the complexity of an issue or how complicated many of life’s issues are and for that matter world issues can be. And I am afraid that if I’m not careful today with how I speak my words and if you are not careful in how you hear them, together we will fall into the temptation of oversimplifying the things that I wish to discuss today.
Peace, social justice and love—that is what I want to talk about for a few minutes. I want to begin by telling you where I hope to end. It is my hope that at the end of this sermon you will understand why I think the following words written by the great social reformer Walter Rauschenbusch leads the way to world peace and serves as a guide to anyone who would take up the cause of social justice. In a 59-page book, written in 1914, Rauschenbusch wrote:
Those who take up the propaganda of love and substitute freedom and fraternity for coercion and class differences in social life are the pioneers of the Kingdom of God; for the reign of the God of love will be fulfilled in a life of humanity organized on the basis of solidarity and love.
Could it be that solidarity and love is the way of peace and an entrance into a just society?