The noise of conflict surrounds us constantly. War is imminent as Russia builds up military resources on the borders of Ukraine. China is making increasingly bellicose gestures toward Taiwan. The Middle East simmers with hostility. Our own nation is torn apart internally, a political war that seems only to intensify. Perhaps your home is full of strife, hard and angry words frequently spoken. Then, too, maybe your conflict is personal – a struggle inside of you with a habit, an attitude, disappointment, or fear.
The most common response to conflict is power. Nations build bigger armies. Remember the insanity of the Cold War nuclear strategy aptly called MAD – Mutual Assured Destruction? The volume of the argument escalates when we attempt to out-shout the other guy. We double down on building fortifications to which we can retreat and aim our guns or words at those we perceive to be our enemies. The result of all this is great harm.
Christian, Jesus teaches that we live in a world full of conflict
as people who love.
When you read those words did you say,
“Yeah, right, Jerry. Love is weak, a sure way to get run over and beat down”?
Let me invite you to think about that again proposing to you that love wins! I’m not talking about romantic love that warms our heart, nor am I talking about that emotional response to cute puppies or kids. The love that defeats evil in us and through us is a bold love, a sacrificial love, an engaged and truthful love that is willing to die for others.
John shows us the way to love, the foundation of security in this world of wars.
He says “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-2, NIV) Lavished! God loves YOU. Yes, His love is not doled out in small measure. His love is not just sufficient. He profusely provides love to us, demonstrated in Christ Jesus who left His glory to be a Man, who showed us the Father’s heart, and Who gave Himself at the Cross to make peace with God for us. Lavished!
Paul prays that our understanding will be opened to the power of God’s love.
“I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19, NLT)
When, by faith, we accept that God loves us – not because of who we are, because what we have done, because we are beautiful, or because of what others say about us – but simply because we are, a profound shift begins to happen inside of us. We learn to live confidently, hopefully, and lovingly.
Loved people love.
John goes on in that ‘love chapter’ to remind us that when we truly know God’s love, we live differently from those who are full of love hunger. “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:11-18, NIV) Please do not read that passage as an “I gotta do more” set of rules. The love described there is a response to the love we experience. If we know God’s love, then love will flow from us, inside out.
The response to our personal conflicts is love, that divine love lavished on us by God, our Father, paid for by the offering of Christ Jesus. This is the Good News. It’s not just a nice idea for Sunday School kids. It is a way of life to which we are called. Jesus’ directive to lay down our defensiveness, to unclench our fists and to meet our enemies with open arms, is impossible unless and until we are secure in the lavish love of God.
Let’s commit ourselves to the ‘war’ of love.
The word from the Word sums it up today. Meditate on these words, prayerfully anchoring your heart and mind, your life and hope in the radical love of God.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11, NIV)
Love is strong, not weak. Love wins!
Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I found in You
And Lord I’ve come to know
The weaknesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the pow’r of Your love
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the pow’r of Your love
Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living ev’ry day
By the pow’r of Your love
© 1992 Geoff Bullock Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
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