Opposite of Love is not hate but "I Don't Care"

The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is acedia. This is a Latin word meaning "I don't care." In our local churches we are in danger of practicing acedia. We could learn from our Jewish brothers and sisters who practiced "Hesed," the Biblically mandated behavior of radical hospitality. In their nomadic culture, if a stranger came into your campsite in or around mealtime, you were directed to feed them, even before feeding yourself or your fellow shepherds. It was the reason Jesus sent out the disciples, two by two, without any money or supplies. Jesus was secure in understanding his people's practice of Hesed.

From our African brothers and sisters we learn of a similar practice called "Chabaza." Literally translated this means "I will help you plow your field." African farmers would leave their own fields, put their hands on their neighbor's plow and never look back. There was no demand of reciprocation, it was a free gift of love and caring.

In our local churches we espouse "agape" love. The Greek word is both God's love for human kind and, by extension, our love for one another. We profess agape but more often we find acedia in our behavior.

A member of AA says it this way.... In answer to his religious mother's sincere question "why don't you go to church?" this young man answered, "Mother, the people of the church say they love everyone 'just as they are' but they  don't mean it, In AA the members accept everyone just as they are and AA members mean it. My name and phone number, along with many others is on a bulletin board at our meeting location. Any stranger can take that number, call me at 3am in the morning saying he is wanting to drink and I will get up, go meet him, and talk him through the crisis. How many church folks would do that?" Mom was speechless.

We are hesitant to put our cell phone numbers in a  church directory. We give out our second email address to folks we do not know to avoid being spammed. We shake hands, during the greeting time, saying "God loves you and I love you too," hoping we can get by with a nod and smile. We are inconvenienced by someone interrupting us with their story, stopping us in the hallway and delaying us from our appointed rounds. Agape? Hesed? Chabaza?

Consider building a high visibility bulletin board in your church. Recruit some people who are open to the practices of Agape, Hesed, and Chabaza. Put names and numbers of willing church members on that board with the simple message.... "The following people are willing to meet with you, hear your story, and walk with you through crisis at any time day or night." Something to think about in the battle with acedia