On Thursday nights we've been opening up unit two at the IHH for dinner and discussion. Each time we've been looking at the gospel reading from the previous Sunday. We also bring into the discussion the things we're learning through projects like the IHH and our understanding of our national story.
In our most recent discussion we read from John 13:31-35:
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
We talked about the fact that in our society, Christians are often not associated with love. A lot of people we know associate Christians with groups like the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), who have recently been saying that people should have the right to vilify homosexuals. It seems like the ACL believe they are being loving in their actions - they believe they are standing up for the rights of children. Sometimes the things we do out of a sense of love for another actually hurt that person. If we are motivated by love, but we're getting feedback saying that what we're doing is hurtful, love will lead us to listen and modify our behaviour - especially if we're consistently getting that feedback.
In the course of our project we've sometimes had to change our loving behaviour in response to feedback - such as hearing that many of our guests wouldn't consider lentils or sushi a proper meal, no matter how much love we feel we've put into it. We've needed to take that on and modify our behaviour by making sure that we can always offer meat when guests are eating with us. More recently we've received feedback from one of our guests about the use of the word 'Indigenous' in our name. We'll need to listen to what more of our guests and referrers have to say as we work out what would be received as the most loving thing to do.