Love. It’s powerful. It’s the most powerful force on Planet Earth!
But you and I are Simon Peter. When we’re provoked by a perceived threat, our first instinct is to draw our sword and strike. Peter meant well. Those soldiers bearing down on Gethsemane were completely in the wrong, and Peter was “right” in his desire to protect and defend his Lord. But Jesus, by His subsequent words and actions, made it crystal clear that the sword was not the method for the moment.
You’re likely not known for cutting off ears. Neither am I. But we’re quite likely to draw a sword of another kind, and cut off … understanding … communication … relationship. Let’s face it, we often fight back in ways which are more socially acceptable.
Thinking back to Peter and the ear-cutting incident, which is recorded in all four Gospel accounts, I’m reminded how much I need God to create in me the “clean heart” that I need for the moments of trial and struggle in my own life. It is my heart which always sets the tone and pace of my subsequent actions. My soul always seems to expose itself.
Sometimes you and I must put away our sword. Sometimes our highest calling is to forcefully display the highest level of self-restraint. Sometimes, if not all the time, love is our most potent weapon.
There are seasons when silence is golden indeed. There are seasons when needed strength can be found only on our knees. There are seasons when human reason simply fails us.
Everywhere we look, there are viable sources of angst. Nearly every state is reporting an increase in the suicide rate. Churches are struggling, and many smaller congregations are closing their doors. Even within once-comfortable communities, tensions and factions are mounting. People are reporting intense emotional struggles over the inability to find meaning and purpose in their work. America seems to be suffering from an existential crisis that is haunting nearly every segment of our society.
But even in the midst of our culture’s nervous breakdown, you and I have received a clarion call to love deeply, in Christ. Not even the languages of angels can calm these troubled waters, friends, but God’s love in and through us can work wonders. Fear and retaliation must not prevail, tempted as we may be to set the record straight in short order. We have enemies, no doubt. So we must look to our Good Shepherd to set before us the sturdy table of grace.
I believe that the Lord inspired me with these words a couple of nights ago. Some of you have already seen them on social media, but in any event I pray that they will be a dose of encouragement for you today …
The cultural headwinds are in our face, Church!
Our standards are mocked.
Our sisters and brothers are marginalized.
Our Savior is maligned.
Don’t fight with worldly weapons.
Our passion comes from heaven.
Our power shines in weakness.
Our perseverance defies common sense.
Don’t despise these times.
For this season you and I were appointed.
So hoist your sails, Church! Love on!
This is when the Spirit blows strong!