[Present Perfect] Chapter 5: Living in Love

This chapter was a little too nice for my liking. I was constantly reminded of one of my favorite thinkers while reading this chapter, Stephen Colbert. Colbert once said:

If America is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and help the needy without condition and then admit we don’t want to do anything about it.

When he said this, he was questioning potential cuts to welfare programs. Boyd asks why American Christians spend more time listening and learning about the Kingdom instead of doing things that Jesus says Kingdom people do.

Boyd places the blame on Americans being Modern thinkers who have think that “knowledge is power”. The answer I cynically give is that people are self-interested and lazy. People are reminded by celebrities, pastors, and politicians that helping is good but you can always give money. There are already lots of people in the world helping other people, all they need is money! You write a check and you feel like you are doing something. In America, you can buy yourself an indulgence when it comes to helping people.

This chapter is about learning to love people like Jesus. Boyd points out that we love people who are easy to love. I couldn’t help to think of the outrage of the Casey Anthony verdict. When I turned on the radio, there were multiple Christians calling in saying that there is a special place in Hell for Casey Anthony. That’s loving our enemy? Appointing yourself judge, jury, and executioner for a person and condemning them because you think they are guilty is loving your enemy? If we can’t find it within ourselves to love someone, that doesn’t mean that God does the same.

Speaking as someone who’s faith journey has been largely impacted by experiences serving others, I tend to get a little frustrated. I’ve always liked the idea that “faith without works is dead.” Works aren’t a prerequisite for faith, but rather a visible sign of faith. I’ve learned more about the gospel by handing a cup of cold water to a homeless neighbor or by doing math homework with a child while his parents are at work.

For someone who doesn’t seem happy with the status quo of American Christianity, Boyd curiously doesn’t focus on helping and loving our neighbors. The exercises focus on loving those who we find difficult to love only part of the time. They focus on not letting your ego get in the way of the others in your middle class life. What about unconditionally helping and loving the needy?

This post is part of a 7-part series on Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now by Greg Boyd. For other posts in this series, click here.


Zane Dukes is from the eternally radioactive city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is currently a senior in political science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Zane enjoys talking about the complexities of life, including and not limited to Seinfeld, Indiana Jones, and Jeff Goldblum. He likes rowing, snowboarding, Frisbee, and Nyan cat.