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Loving Wastefully

Question & Answer

 

Q: By Beth

What does Bishop John Shelby Spong mean by “love wastefully”?

 

A: By Rev. Deshna Shine

Dear Beth,

This is one of my favorite teachings by Bishop Spong. And here is a link to a great book of his where you can read more: Jesus for the Non-Religious.

I attempt to interpret Spong‘s writings with a bit of caution, as he is a highly intelligent, deeply well-read, scholar, New York Times bestseller, author of over 20 books and has years of experience as a faith leader in the Episcopal Church. Bishop Spong is a hero to me. He is one of the first religious faith leaders to come out in support of gay marriage. He spoke on the national news channels and programs about Hell not being real and against the idea of Original Sin and the need for Atonement – the theology that we are born in sin and destined to sin and must atone for our sins. He is an extremely brave revolutionary, a social justice warrior, and a deeply faithful and spiritual human.

I can share my interpretation of that idea, however, and my personal perspective. I believe what Spong was referring to was the idea that the most profound way we can be in relationship with God (the Divine, Great Mystery, Nameless One) is to love one another and to love deeply. To love without barter, to love without expectation, to love without the need of receiving anything back. Even, perhaps, to love recklessly and shamelessly with all of one’s heart.

Spong believes that God is the source of all life, the Source of Love, the Ground of Being, and is present in every person and in all of Creation. Therefore, to Spong, the only true way to worship God is by living fully, loving wastefully, and having the courage to BE all that we can be in full authenticity.

By loving wastefully, which he likens to plugging the old sink in the basement, turning on the tap full force and allowing the water to overflow into every crack and cranny, never stopping to ask does that crack deserve this living water, we can be overflowing with love. Loving wastefully means you love … and then you love some more.

We have an infinite well of love within that we can always fill ourselves up with. To love is to feel love and to love wastefully is to love without fear or expectation or need. When we are tapped in to the Divine within us and to the Divine’s way of loving wastefully, endlessly and infinitely, we are not losing anything, in fact we feel more full.

Dr. Vivek Murphy, in his book, Together, shares that the vast majority of us feel lonely. Often, we feel lonely even if we are around people we love because we are not having deep connections at all of these three vital levels: with the self, in relationships, and in community. We all seek deeper connections and we desire to receive more love. But we are afraid to give it. We are afraid of getting hurt. We are afraid of being empty, of losing love, we are afraid that in the act of giving love we are actually losing love. When in fact, when we take time to look within, we find that there is this deep well of love bubbling up within us, an eternal spring of Living Waters. We can discover that the experience of loving fills us up with love just as much, if not more, as the experience of receiving love. To worship God is to be love in this world and when you are overflowing with it, you are able to love wastefully.

~ Rev. Deshna Shine

About the Author
Rev. Deshna Shine is Executive Director of ProgressiveChristianity.org and Progressing Spirit and is an ordained Interfaith Minister. She is an author, international speaker, and a visionary. She grew up in a thriving progressive Christian church and has worked in the field for over 13 years. She graduated from UCSB with a major in Religious Studies and a minor in Global Peace and Security. She is a lead author and editor on the children’s curriculum: A Joyful Path, Spiritual CurriculumShe co-authored the novel, Missing Mothers. She is the Executive Producer of Embrace Festival. She is passionate about sacred community, nourishing children spiritually, and transforming Christianity through a radically inclusive lens.

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