The following article is written by Clint Quillen a seasoned United Methodist minister in East Ohio. I have known Clint for his entire ministerial career as a compassionate, tireless, visionary leader, and dedicated evangelical minister. He offers us in this modern parable a truth that the reader cannot deny as truth. Clint is one of the evangelical ministers worthy of our support as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Rev. Dr. Chet Harris, East Ohio WCA Regional Director
Uncomfortable Love by Rev. Dr. Clint Quillen Jr
A Christian friend of mine and his family own several nursing homes. A few years ago they decided to expand their services by constructing a new facility featuring larger, private rooms to provide the best hospitality and comfort for their guests. My friend, we’ll call him George, explained to me that they wanted to provide wonderful care for their clients. And because of his Christian commitment and desire to live out the love of Christ in the workplace, he was striving to go the extra mile to treat all of the residents and staff with Christian love and compassion, recognizing that most of them struggle daily with difficulties and problems beyond their control. He emphasized that Christian compassion and love were significant motivating factors in the comfort and assistance their care centers provide.
As the new facility was nearing completion, George invited me to take a tour. As we walked through the new building, imagine the following conversation taking place. Suppose I was telling him how beautiful and impressive the new construction was, and he was telling me how they are doing this to benefit the residents so that they can be comfortable in their last years, receive the best possible care, and know that they are loved. Suppose I said to my friend, “George, what is that little silver thing in the middle of the ceiling in each room? What does it do?” Suppose he replied, “That is the sprinkler. It is part of the entire sprinkler system.” I then asked, “Why would you have a sprinkler inside of a building? What is its purpose?” George responded, “Well, it sprays out water all over the room if it is necessary.” “What do you mean it sprays out water,” I exclaim, “Your patients could get all wet! You just told me how you want to make your residents comfortable and at ease so that their last years can be as peaceful as possible, and yet you have a device that can shower the entire room with water? That does not make any sense. How can you be so insensitive?”
Suppose then before George could answer I noticed a little red box on the wall that read, “Pull in Case of Emergency.” So I asked George, “What is that thing on the wall?” And he replied, “That is the fire alarm.” “What would happen if someone actually pulled it?” I inquired. “It makes a terrible piercing noise loud enough to wake up all of the residents in our entire facility,” he explained. Again puzzled, I accusingly asked, “I thought you wanted all those in your care to be comfortable? So why would you install a device that could wake up everyone with a shrill alarm? Why would you want to startle your residents with such a loud, disturbing noise? Just think of the emotional and mental hurt and harm you would be inflicting upon them! Here you are telling me that you want to have this nice new building and bigger rooms and a better facility so that people can be comfortable and receive excellent care and know that they are loved, yet you have incorporated a device that can wake them up in the middle of the night with a deafening siren? What kind of comfort is that? How in the world does that demonstrate Christian love?”
Imagine how George might respond. Maybe something like this. George would look at me very perplexed and reply, “Clint, what you are saying is so confusing to me. Isn’t it obvious? If there is a fire, what is better, our residents being showered with water and disturbing their comfort with a piercing alarm enabling their lives to be saved, or leaving them resting comfortably in their beds, unaware of the danger surrounding them, with the potential of losing their lives in a fire? Activating the alarm and sprinkler system would disturb their comfort, but it is the most loving and caring thing we can do if an actual fire is blazing. I just don’t understand where you are coming from. As a pastor, I thought you realized – love is not always doing what is most comfortable, but it is always doing what is best.”
The preceding "parable" is based on actual events, however the conversation was completely fabricated to illustrate a relevant and penetrating point. I believe with all of my heart that God loves all people, God wants what is best for all people, God knows what is best for all people, and God reveals His best for all people predominantly through His Word. And if God’s will and God’s best is discovered in other ways, it will never contradict His written Word. Circumstances of life, insights of others, a still small voice, prayer, tradition, reason, experience or any other way God may speak to us may compliment, but it will never oppose, the inspired Word of God.
We are all called to love. We are called to love as Jesus loved. There are many leaders and members of the United Methodist Church who are encouraging and affirming those practicing LGBTQI+ lifestyles as their way of expressing that love. They have de-activated the fire alarm and have removed the sprinkler system. They believe such actions reflect the unconditional love of Christ. Yet, in a lost and broken world, and in a conflicted and contentious denomination, at times loving like Jesus means the fire alarm needs to be pulled. Sometimes the sprinkler system needs to start spraying and the siren needs to be sounded in order to save lives, to awaken those asleep in the comfort of an unbiblical lifestyle, while unknown to them the flames are raging all around. Love is not always doing what is most comfortable, but it is always doing what is best.
by Rev. Dr. Clint Quillen Jr