MJ Kiss

Martyn Joseph’s song Kiss The World Beautiful is a beautifully crafted song about loving the world. It is about hope and change and good and right and a shalom-like balance to the way everything that is turns out. 

Though an overall success, some of the lines seem to find Joseph groping for the poetry, the direction to meet the huge ambition of the idea. 

There is for me one couplet that is a dog-at-my-heels line that touches the depths of my psyche and shapes my every day. After he has addressed the world and went for a chat with God, Joseph brings it all back down to loving the one he’s with. As he turns to that loved one and longs to kiss her lips he finds a truth that is explosive particularly in the religious world that Joseph and I have been weaned, damaged and healed in: 


“Sometimes it’s just more important to love

Than to always have it right...”


This is a line that Jesus might have used against the Pharisees. In the conservative Christian world that Martyn Joseph and I grew up in, there is an over emphasis on being right and an unloving damning dismissal and demonizing of those who don’t think exactly and correctly, as we do; the Pharisees were as much about conformity as legalism! The idea of worshipping at the altar of being right might be an idol of some sections of Christianity in the 21st century.

This can portray an image of God that is far from loving. Indeed I remember at college coming back from hearing one of the popular preachers of the day and someone saying with a condemning sneer, “I suppose it was all about love, love, love?!” I was young and a little naive and thus very confused!Jesus seemed to be all about “love, love, love” from what I read in my Bible. When Jesus healed on the Sabbath they told him it wasn’t right; he thought it was more important to love the man with the withered hand. 

When they wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery and Jesus got them to drop the stones, they had the law on their side; but Jesus thought it more important to reach out in grace and forgive the woman. 

When he touched the leper it was not the right thing to do; but Jesus thought it important to show tangible love to the outcast. 

When asked what the most important commandment was Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40). He even spoke of loving enemies.

This of course should be no surprise to those who have a handle on the entirety of Scriptures. Jesus was reminding us of the Jews daily liturgy of Shema in Deuteronomy 6 and the commands to love neighbour in Leviticus 19.

Paul too knew the centrality of Jesus’ Gospel of love. After an entire poetic chapter on love in his first letter to the Corinthians he concluded, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Biblically, loving God and your neighbour as yourself, never mind your enemies seemed more crucial to the soul of Christian spirituality than knowing all the theology of legal manoeuvres. 

James K A Smith from Calvin College has spoken about how we are not what we believe, we are what we love. The identity of a Christian is not in being right in every theological doctrine or contemporary issue. Our identity is in how much we kiss the world beautiful. That is how the world will judge us.




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