In an incredible and impassioned speech given at the “2015 Parliament of World’s Religions”, activist, lawyer, and filmmaker, Valarie Kaur talks about the love that is at the heart of all faiths, “love without thought of outcome, love that sets others free, love so deep that you would give your life for it. That kind of love is revolutionary… I believe that revolutionary love is the call of our times.”
At a recent “Social Justice Internship” gathering at the Pleasantville Presbyterian Church, 8 high schoolers discussed this video and the idea of a revolution of love. We talked about whether it would be possible to fight a revolution FOR love WITH love.
It makes me think of the revolution of God on behalf of the Israelites. Working through Moses, God kickstarted a revolution in Egypt, toppling the bourgeoisie, and helped the Hebrew slaves escape to freedom. This was a bloody revolution FOR love.
After they fled into the desert, God demonstrated God’s love for the Hebrews by raining manna from heaven, making water flow from a rock, and ensuring Israel prevailed when an army rose to attack them. Even the 10 Commandments served as an act of love from God to the Israelites. Under Pharaoh, the Israelites weren’t human, but here was the God of their forefathers inviting them into relationship.
But eventually, like so many things that come from revolution, the hope and promise of the 10 Commandments began to fade. Especially once Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire, who used laws to oppress. The Law, which once felt like a beacon of freedom and a sign of their relationship with God, must then have felt like a burden.
And so, when the time came for Jesus to outline how we were to live in relationship with one another, Jesus chose promises, not laws. Promises like the beatitudes; blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven, they will inherit the earth, these will be called children of God.
What now? What about today? When people like Valarie Kaur call us to mount a revolution FOR love WITH love, what tools are left if not laws or promises? Maybe the revolution we really need, a revolution of love, must be fought with faith. After all, faith yields a love so great that one would lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)
And so I humbly present to you a tool for the coming revolution. A re-interpretation of the 10 Commandments as seen through the lens of faith:
- Have faith that God is greater, by far, than we can possibly imagine.
- Have faith God is enough.
- Have faith that God hears you when you call.
- Have faith that there will be time to rest and be made whole.
- Have faith that no matter how lost you feel there are others who can help you find your way.
- Have faith that life, all life, is a sacred, anointed thing.
- Have faith that the promises we make, especially those we love the most, matter.
- Have faith that your needs will be met and that help will come when you ask for it.
- Have faith that honesty and vulnerability will yield compassion and understanding.
- Have faith that contentment is firmly within your grasp.
Bryan Bardin is the Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministries at Pleasantville Presbyterian Church, unless you ask him, in which case he’ll tell you he prefers the title, “Trouble-maker in Residence”.