On our podcast last year we recently asked our listeners to share their answer to the question – “If you could say one thing to the Church today what would it be?”
We had lots of great responses.
My response: LOVE MORE.
Not the sappy kind of love my wife and I see in various chick-flicks… but LOVE that changes the world.
Love that melts hearts.
Love that touches deep inside the souls of men.
Love that brings life into the darkest and deepest pits of evil.
A love that is a weapon to destroy ALL evil.
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Phillip Yancy, author of What’s So Amazing About Grace? shares a story about a lunch encounter he had.
Yancy met with a man for lunch and found out this man was a WWII vet. The veteran saw a lot of action during the war and even fought at the Battle of the Bulge – a 9 day battle –
from Dec. 16 – Dec. 25, 1945.
During the battle, things were so chaotic that the US troops couldn’t take any prisoners so this soldier was part of a team who were instructed to go out and kill any wounded German soldiers.
As he was searching for the wounded he found a German soldier, not wounded, but simply too tired to move.
The American raised his gun, ready to blow his brains out when the German spoke in plain English, “Please let me pray first.”
A little surprised, the soldier asked, “Are you a Christian?”
The German replied, “I am.”
“I am too!” said the American soldier.
So they sat and shared Scripture and family photos together and even prayed together.
As the soldier kept talking, Yancy pressed the soldier…
“Well what did you do?”
The soldier said, “I told him, ‘You’re a Christian and I’m a Christian. I’ll see you in Heaven.’ And I blew his brains out.”
Let that sink in for a moment.
That’s not the outcome you expected?
Where’s the happy ending? The point of reconciliation?
We tend to believe that Christians are loving people.
And yet so often our
fill in the blank……..
often get in the way of living out the very love we claim we have for others.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matthew 22)
And beyond just neighbors (as many translations use) – Jesus even calls us to love “others” including our enemies!
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
Jesus seems to lump everyone into this “People we should love” category.
Why does Jesus care so much about us loving others?
“When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.
This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish-to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus?
Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.” (Matthew 5:44-46)
Jesus lays it out pretty plainly – we’re created in the image of God and when we love our neighbors – and love the unloveable we are becoming our true selves.
Our God-created selves.
We’re becoming who God created us to be!
Love is a weapon
Last year CNN ran a story featuring photos of Rwandan’s who were caught in the middle of the 1994 genocide – when an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed.
This first photo you see in the article is of two men. Innocent on the left and Gasperd on the right.
Innocent killed Gasperd’s brother on the very spot where they’re now standing.
Today they stand, holding hands, as reconciled friends.
On their arms, a simple message: “Love is a weapon to destroy evil.”
This photo and the next ones were all taken by Jeremy Cowart.
Each photo shows a victim and an oppressor. Each photo shows people who have reconciled through love.
Each photo shows a message – one says, “Truth restores trust.”
Others include “Forgiveness releases fear” and “We restored our humanity.”
Cowart said, “My favorite moment with every photo is seeing the moment when they laugh and you can tell these people really have reconciled. It’s not a front. There is true friendship that has been rebuilt after genocide.”
In America, we can’t even forgive someone if they take our parking spot. But these individuals have forgiven the people who ripped away some of the most precious things in life – family, security, innocence.
That’s the kind of love I pray I can show my boys.
That’s the kind of love I pray I can live out to my wife.
That’s the kind of love I pray I can live out to my neighbors and co-workers and even my enemies.
So what about you?
Where’s the rub? When do you find it hardest to love others?
Imagine if today on Sept. 11, we remembered the horrors of 2011 and committed ourselves to loving in a way that would destroy this kind of evil.
What this kind of love could do in your family?
Imagine how it might change your relationship with your kids or your spouse?
Imagine how this kind of love could change your neighborhood – your church – your city?
Imagine if as Digidisciples we were truly known for our love of others – counter culture to everything society knows.
Then… we might truly find a love that is a weapon to destroy all evil.
This was adopted from a message given in November 2011 at Wolfe City First Baptist.