Devotion and honor, not violence
Rev. Sandra Dorsainvil
May 18, 2021
The Scripture from Romans 12:10 (NIV) “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” is one that my office, Short-Term Mission at International Ministries, asks our volunteers to memorize before they start their cross-cultural short-term mission. It is one that as trainers, facilitators, and leaders in the field of short-term mission, we encourage volunteers and team leaders to abide by as well.
Things will happen on and off the field to test the essence of that Scripture. Serving as God’s ambassadors away from the comfort of our home base where we are surrounded by loved ones and friends we can go to, when current events shake us, will bring emotional and spiritual challenges. How we respond to life’s events on or off the field will be part of the molding of our being and character.
The week of April 19, 2021, with the high number of violent deaths reported in the media as the verdict of the trial of Derek Chauvin was announced, was a week filled with these challenges that shook many of us at our core. I found myself pondering on Romans 12:10 and lifting up these two questions:
How can a knee on someone’s neck show devotion and love?
How can violent acts that cease the flow of breath be acts of love?
Devotion assumes a sentiment of humility. Honor assumes an act of respect. Violence of one human towards another is not an equation where we see devotion, or honor. Marshall Rosenberg, leader and founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, would say that “needs and feelings” have not been clearly defined for that equation to make any sense.
How shall we, as people of God, demonstrate love for one another in our neighborhoods and overseas? How shall we choose to be devoted to and honor one another while we remain God’s ambassadors of mercy, hope, and love while we serve? I humbly offer that Isaiah 61 invites us all to be a greater witness of God’s love as a resurrected people breathing for truth, mercy, and love. May our individual and collective breath last for more than 9 minutes.
“Love one another” appears eleven times in the New Testament. We read in the gospel of John “This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:17 NIV). Violence is not love.
When the soldiers crucified Jesus on Calvary, they were not showing love. It was an ultimate act of privilege, disdain, hate, racism, and power. The soldiers did not show devotion, nor did they show honor as we read in Romans 12:10. They acted out of privilege. They pierced Jesus’ sides with mockery and disdain. Devotion and honor were not upheld.
The act of stopping breath from flowing in and out of someone’s lungs stops God’s breath of mercy, hope, and love from permeating the human body, from honoring what is of God’s creation, made with and of love.
How shall we, as people of God, demonstrate love for one another in our neighborhoods and overseas? How shall we choose to be devoted to and honor one another while we remain God’s ambassadors of mercy, hope, and love while we serve?
I boldly offer that these are critical questions, for all who profess to be Christ followers to individually and collectively unpack and not shy away from. These questions invite us to the ultimate pause on this redemptive faith journey. As a people of God, made in God’s image, called to serve in all corners of the world and live out what has been directed and proclaimed by God in Isaiah 61, and especially in Isaiah 61:8 (“I, the Lord, love justice”) we pause.
The pause moment gives us breath to perhaps recalibrate what has gone astray. The moment of intentional reflection in this pause invites us into deeper conversation with ourselves. I humbly offer that Isaiah 61 invites us all to be a greater witness of God’s love as a resurrected people breathing for truth, mercy, and love. May our individual and collective breath last for more than 9 minutes.
Rev. Sandra Dorsainvil is director, Short-Term Mission, International Ministries.