“If I had to choose between love and theology,” Jack said as he rested upon the soft grass, “I’d choose love.”
“That doesn’t sound like something Pappa’d approve of.” said Stevie.
“Too right! He’d think I was fit for a flogging most likely, but I don’t care. He’ll never know. He’s so caught up in his head he doesn’t notice anything else anyway.”
Little Stevie looked troubled. “Pappa notices me,” he said.
Jack laughed, but not in a mocking way, just in a big brother kind of way. “He sees you at dinner, and he sees you when you are in his way. But trust me Stevie, when he’s thinking and talking about theology, he doesn’t see anything but himself.” Jack stood up and spread his hands in the air, imitating his fathers standard preacher’s voice. “Go-ad is almighty. Go-ad is who you should fear.” He turned to Stevie, “I don’t care about his ‘Go-ad‘ of fear, I want to know the real God, the God of love.”
“Doesn’t Pappa know the real God?” Stevie asked in genuine confusion. “He’s the preacher of our town, how can he not know God?”
“Well,” Jack replied, chewing on a bit of grass, “the way I see it, he prefers his own interpretations of Scripture. It’s like a stone in his head, and its more valuable to him than the revelation of God’s nature of love.”
Stevie looked uneasy. “We better get back, Mamma will get all mad if we’re late for supper.”
Jack picked up his bag, stealing another glance at the river. He reached over and messed up his little brother’s hair. “You’re right, little man. We don’t want to make Mumma mad.”
“Jack,” Stevie said, “How do you want to live your faith, then? If not with Pappa’s theology to guide you, then what?”
The wind whistled along the riverbank. Jack enjoyed its melody for a few moments, before answering, “I’m going to let love have first place in my heart, so my heart can be led by love. If love wants me to understand Scripture, it can teach me. If not, then I don’t mind. I don’t need nothing but the love of God in me.”
“Isn’t the love of God enough for Pappa, too?”
“It should be, but all I see is his passion for his interpretations of the Bible; I ain’t ever seen him appreciate and understand love.”
“Pappa’s not a bad man, is he, Jack?” Stevie asked with concern.
“Nah, he ain’t a bad man. He’s just a proud man. He loves his ideas as much as he loves imposing them on others. But that’s not going to be my life. No sir, I once heard someone say that God is love, and I believe it’s true. So whatever I do or say in life, I’m always going start with love.”
“Jack,” Stevie asked, “doesn’t Pappa understand love?”
They reached the road. Jack kicked the nearest pebble and watched it clank down the street. “I’m sure he thinks he does, little man.” As the sun set upon the horizon, and all of heaven shone upon them, Jack mumble to himself once more,“I’m sure he thinks he does.”