I have been silent for many weeks, watching the events of the world from my tunneled-out Hobbit hole with fear. While some have been busy stealing the breath that the Master has placed within us, I have experienced the exact opposite.
My small world is filling with growth and joy.
These are hard things to reconcile and I long to sew a curtain that blocks my view to the outside world. I long to pretend that everyone has a life with healthy toddlers’, moody teens, and excited boys losing their first teeth.
But they do not.
Violence is ripping across the globe and it leaves precious few untouched.
Each day we hear more news of war, chaos, suffering, and death. The powers that be are never content to hold fast to their corner of the world and instead are fervent in their quest to dominate their neighbor. They intimidate one another with loud speeches and quiet one another with sarin bombs or suicide plots.
This isn’t new.
Warfare is anything but new.
Cain and Abel taught us first what it means to want what isn’t yours. They taught us best what happens when unbridled anger gives way to hatred and hatred gives way to death.
I imagine all of it suits Satan just fine. His plans of devastation and destruction unfold best when neighbors take up arms against one another instead of sitting down to talk.
All of it gets to be more than our hearts can bear. Some days it is all I can do to mutter the name of God, to invoke his presence in a world we have desecrated, to sit on my heels, forehead pressed to the floor, and ask him once again to make his presence known.
How can anyone stop the avalanche of fury that is moving among such angry people? One wants abortion, one wants life, one wants oil, one wants clean water, one wants this country, and another wants this religion and no one, no one wants to listen.
Everyone is content in their own heart to beat their chest and scream at one another, “My right trumps your right.” Sometimes this screaming makes no human noise at all when it takes the shape of bullets, bombs, and machetes.
No one seems to remember who God is or what God can do.
If they believe in God at all.
But the Psalmist sings a different song to us:
“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:9,10) NIV
The one who made the hand that throws the spear will be the one who breaks it. He will be the one who takes that hand and holds it too as he renders both compassion and judgement. At his appointed time, he will return and there will be no earthly kings fighting for power, honor, or land. There will be no more rebels, or regimes, or refugee camps. There will be no more children covered in ash being whisked away by brave hearts covered in mortal skin.
There will be a reckoning the likes of which this world has never seen. And every person from every country will lift his name up in honor as the one true King sets all things right.
But here, now, while the wars rage and the refugee camps rise. While our newsfeed informs us about children starving, Rohingyan genocide, and racial profiling, we bear a responsibility.
We bear a greater responsibility than our human minds can comprehend.
For believers in Christ it becomes a Holy responsibility, a mantle of sacredness sewn to our hearts,
“...Love your neighbor as yourself.”
These five words carry with them the belief that we will surrender our ideas of who we believe people to be, and instead choose each day to see them as Jesus sees us.
It means we willingly leave our comfortable zip code protected homes and enter a world that desperately needs the light of hope we carry within us. It means exposing our on-loan hearts so that the glory of the Father outshines any darkness this world can create. It is knowingly choosing to bear our neighbor’s struggles, hearing their voices, and feeling their pain without counting our cost.
This is what it means to love like the Father.
And this is what we were made for.
Not hobbit holes or safe dark rooms where nothing scary creeps. We were made to be the physical embodiment of the Father’s love in the present.
Let me encourage you, dear friends, do not descend into yourself. This is not a safe place to dwell. This is where you will forget that you were made in the image of the Father. You will forget who you really are and what you were really created to do. Instead, take a moment each morning before the day catches you, to “be still and know that he is God.” Then, having centered yourself within the Creator, turn your face directly into the fray and enter in. Never stop being the person who cares about a world full of hurting people. Just keep showing up to love them like Jesus until he shows up in person.