Love God and love people

In a 32-page booklet released in 2004, Meet the Friends, Paul Anderson includes a short essay on worship in which he identifies a "double priority" in the early Friends' "attempt to recover 'basic Christianity.'" That double priority? "Love God and love people (Matthew 22:37-40)." Paul writes that "Friends minimize all else for the sake of throwing all energies in these two directions: worship and ministry."

What happens in worship, according to Paul, is that God's love for us disarms us, changes us, magnifies our own ability to love. "This love is powerful enough to embrace the unlovely, and this oneness of mind often transcends differences of opinion." I think it's this result of worship that makes worship, for Friends, "the means and end of all we do."

As far as I can tell, that also is why we need worship. Paul writes that "worship is the loving interaction between God and the people of God who are the Church." And Paul offers this quotation from The Richmond Declaration of Faith: "Worship is the adoring response of the heart and mind to the influence of the Spirit of God. It stands neither in forms nor in the formal disuse of forms . . . it must be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)."

It's that phrase from Paul's essay, though, "Love God and love people," that has been turning in me for more than a week now. It might keep turning for awhile. It sounds simple. But my experience suggests it is not, and I'm not sure what to do with that. For now, I am praying that God might help me to love him better and that more of my love for God might leak into my interactions with people. And I am praying that God might help us here at Barclay Press to invest our resources and our "energies in these two directions."

Eric Muhr