“John Perkins said it right, Love is the final fight.” – The Sound by Switchfoot
Sometimes I just don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to love. Love… it shouldn’t be that hard of a concept to grasp, especially for a follower of Christ. How many times did Jesus mention love in the bible? He not only constantly talked about it being most important but he lived it. He showed love to the most unlovable. Yet this is the one thing Christians cannot seem to get right.
I know this sounds like a rant and maybe it is a little bit. But mostly I think I’m just trying to work it all out for myself in black and white, and inviting you to join me in this place.
I want to understand why I can’t love well. Why I seem to fail at so much. Why at times I feel too apathetic or too concerned with myself to even try. Why my good intentions are not enough.
I want to understand why we can’t love well ….
Why followers of a loving God, who sent his only Son to redeem this world, can’t love well. It’s so puzzling to me why church is a place where judgment and hurt seem to sometimes reign supreme. Why have so many people been hurt in churches, in the very house of God? Why do churches split? Why are Christian families broken and in turmoil? Why are husbands, wives, children, brothers, and sisters fighting against each other as if their mortal enemies who’ve drawn battle lines? Why do Christians gossip and lie? Why are we so hell bent on hurting each other?
I know that Christian or not, we’re all human and imperfect. I mean that’s the very reason we need God. I’m a firm believer in that the church is for sick people – which is every single human being on this planet. I suppose that’s why the church can be a place where hurt happens, because it’s full of sick, imperfect people. Trust me, if you’re looking for a “perfect church” you’ll never find it. But still I can’t help but question, shouldn’t we – people who have Jesus inside our hearts- be better than this? We have The almighty, holy, loving God inside of us … yet we’re no different than people who’ve never known God. And in some cases worse. And it shouldn’t be like this. This isn’t the way God intended it to be.
I believe God has called us to a higher standard. A higher standard of love. The bible says people will know that we are Christians by our love (John 13:34-35) . That can be a very scary thought, can’t it? That means that without us speaking even a word, but just by watching our lives and the way we treat them, people should know of the God we serve. How much better would this world be if us Christians kept our mouths shut a little more and instead simply lived the life? If instead of spouting off self righteous words and judgments that have served to hurt people so many times if we just loved them. Simple as that. If we focused on their needs instead of being so self seeking. If we just looked at a person and thought “I wonder what they need?”, or “Lord, What can I give them?”. Most of the time the answer will be love. Unconditional love and acceptance.
If we just walked out our Christianity in a loving, real, genuine, and authentic way then people who do not know him just might ask us to tell them the source of our love, peace, and joy. Then we would get the chance to open our mouths and speak what we’ve been living out, and people will believe it and want it.
It often feels like a fight to love well. And maybe that’s because it is. I’m not trying to sound all churchy or anything here, but I believe love, real love, is spiritual warfare. Being loving often times goes against the very grain of our humanity. We’re fighting our flesh, our carnality. Maybe that’s part of what it means to “die to self”. I’m not sure if most of the time we even know what it means to die to self. Our human love is so flawed and so limited. And there’s a real enemy out there that wants us to hate and wants us to fight. And if we’re not actively seeking God everyday we’re going to lose the battle to love well. How do we walk in love?
I think it takes the supernatural love of an all powerful God living and breathing inside of us. I find when I make sure to have my prayer time with God everyday I’m way more loving, and way less easily irritated and angered. Prayer not only changes things, but it changes you. It’s the love of God in us that gives us the ability to love, especially the ability to love people who’ve hurt us.
I also believe that this love has to start at home with our families, and friends. If we can’t love our family and friends right then how can we love other people right? It does us no good to go to church on Sundays, then go home and treat our family and friends badly. Doing that almost feels like counterfeit Christianity. I believe that Sunday morning, sitting in the pews, is only a very small part of what it means to serve God. I believe that getting up on stage and singing, preaching, teaching, ect., is only a small part of our Christian walk. I believe the paramount part happens after we get home from church, and the other 6 days of the week. Behind closed doors with our loved ones, our friendships, how we treat the random people we come in contact with everyday at work, school, or the supermarket. This is our ministry. This is our mission field.
I feel like we need to get back to the basics. We can sometimes get caught up in our fancy churches, our theological discussions, and arguments that we forget to love – which is the very basics of our faith, of Christianity. Have we forgotten that? Our church doors might as well be closed up if we have. What are we without love?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” - 1 Corinthians 13:1 (New International Version)
"Darkness cannot cast out darkness. You need a light for that. Fear cannot cast out fear. You're gonna need hope for that... death warrants more death. But I believe life wants more life and I'm convinced that the greatest weapon we've got is LOVE! And maybe, in a world full of fighters, in a world imploding with hate, maybe to be a lover, you gotta be a fighter. Maybe that's the biggest fight, the only fight worth fighting, the fight you're gonna be in for the rest of your life" – Jon Foreman (Switchfoot)