“Are you a lover or a fighter?” My uncle would ask me that playfully when I was a little boy, but I caught the implication of his words. “Tough and tender don’t mix, so toughen up little boy.” Our world is very effective at knocking the tenderness out of us, isn’t it? Early in life we realize the struggle, that there are people whose mission in the world is to make others miserable. We meet playground bullies who delight in making it clear who’s ‘in’ and who’s ‘out.’ We are bludgeoned by cruel words that make it clear where we fit in or don’t! Lines are drawn – rich, poor, black, white, male, female. There is competition for … well, just about everything and we learn the ‘power game’ that is life for many.
The last three weeks make us witnesses to human cruelty on a horrific scale. The complicated mess that is world politics brought an invasion of a peaceful country, the destruction of cities and towns, the death of thousands – both soldiers and civilians. The callous cruelty of a man with power is demonstrated daily with tanks, bombs, and missiles. The demons of death dance in delight while the angels of heaven weep. And, I return to an old thought – “Jerry, are you a lover or a fighter?” That might seem a strange question to you, but it is distills our response to the world in which we live to the basics.
While I am not a pacifist and recognize the tragic need for armed response, I am equally convinced that God’s desire for His children is that our first response to life is open arms not clenched fists.
World peace will not come until the Second Coming of Christ, the King. Only His perfect justice and triumph over evil will cause wars to cease. But, we are called to be peacemakers even now, people who love in His Name. A Christian who lives in constant friction, causing division and disunity, who exploits others, is a spiritual flop, failing to live the heart of the Gospel!
You may be as proud as a peacock of your personal morality, your stellar record of church attendance, even your good deeds but if you live at odds with the world around you, there is a major misunderstanding of what it means to be Christ’s disciple.
Jesus’ words are clear, not requiring a theology degree for understanding. They are quoted frequently and practiced seldom. He says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35, NIV) Peace begins with you and with me as we choose radical love, which is demonstrated in forgiveness, in acceptance, in care, by building bridges not walls.
So, I ask you “Are you a lover or a fighter?” Don’t complicate it by pointing to world problems. Just look at your own life. Is the love of God you claim transforming you into a person of love?
The word from the Word points us to heart change, to the inner security found in our Father’s love that makes us people capable of loving in a world full of hate. Meditate on these words today.
“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. …
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. … And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” (1 John 3:1-2, 14-16, 23, NIV)
“Are you a lover or a fighter?” It’s not a silly question, at all.
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin
O love of God how rich and pure
How measureless and strong
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angels song
When years of time shall pass away
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall
When men who here refuse to pray
On rocks and hills and mountains call
God’s love so sure shall still endure
All measureless and strong
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race
The saints and angels song
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
Frederick Martin Lehman | Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai
© Words: Public Domain