Updated: Dec 23, 2021
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
I love this exuberant verse from the poet Hafiz:
"I cannot lose anything in this place of abundance I found. If something my heart cherishes is taken away, I just say, ‘God, what happened?' And a hundred more appear."
It is in this realm of God’s abundance that our hearts were made to live, and joy is the furnace meant to fuel all our industry in the world. Without these, nothing in us works as it was made to. When I slip into doubt and confusion about my future, fear rises in my soul like a flood. I am too easily given over to suspicion, and judgment, and the frantic grasping for control.
Much of our world is lost in that flood of frantic judgment right now, and the fruit of that condition speaks for itself: suspicion, contempt, fear, division, hatred, violence. When we are confronted with the possibility of evil, it exposes us to our own vulnerability, and our lack of control over so much of our lives. This revelation can be terrifying, and those who are not ready to face it will conjure an “other”—some person or people or group “out there” whom they deem to be nothing like themselves—and turn them into the embodiment of the evil they fear.
But our struggle is never, can never be, against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). The moment we allow hate and judgment toward another human being to consume us, we have already lost.
Judgment, contempt, violence, the straining grasp for control—these will never, can never, advance God’s Kingdom, not in our lives, and not in the world around us—because they are antithetical to God’s nature and to God’s presence.
On the contrary, those who would advance God’s cause, both in the world and in their own lives, must do so from within the boundaries of God’s Kingdom, where the fruit of His Spirit reigns supreme. I must make my stand on the ground of God’s astounding love. I must breathe in the atmosphere of God’s unbridled joy, of God’s relentless faithfulness, and the abundant life that faithfulness guarantees. I must choose love—whether I comply or resist—if I am to have any hope of establishing or expanding God’s Kingdom in my life or in the many broken places of the world.
Check your fear, and your judgment, and your self-righteous anger. Don’t make the mistake of believing you can stop the darkness by becoming just like it. It’s love, not judgment, that overcomes evil.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.