Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Plain truth about
darkness and light
I have not had a fist fight in seventy
years. But when I was a boy I had a lot of fist fights. Harold and I fought a
lot, mostly during recess at school. Our schoolmates would gather round and
cheer us on. They wanted to see blood.
We fought with our bare fists so our
knuckles got skinned up. We made no body punches; our target was the other’s
face. The fight was over once one of us got a bloody nose.
One of my last fist fights was the
shortest of all. Harold and I had insulted each other and quickly squared off
to fight. Before I could land a blow he hit me between the eyes and the lights
went out. I woke up flat of my back staring into the faces of laughing friends.
There is a simple Bible lesson in such
childish behavior. Hate causes the
lights to go out in our relationships.
Choosing to hate is like plunging into darkness. Hate robs us of the
light to see where we are going. In one of his letters John says that whoever
hates walks in darkness.
John reminds us that we have a choice.
We can love or we can hate. When we love we walk in, and live in, the light.
When we hate others, we stumble in the darkness. We can have light only if we
choose to love. That is plain biblical truth.
Love is not a great achievement
possible only to great saints. Love is something ordinary people can practice
daily – with the help of the Lord. That is because love is the primary fruit of
the Spirit operating in our hearts. Love is not something we “must do” in order
to obey Christ’s commandment to love one another. It is something He does in us
when we surrender to his will for our lives.
When we married my wife did not know
how to make dinner rolls. Her cooking skills were limited. Across the street
lived a dear older woman who took Dean under her wing and gently taught her how
to make potato rolls. Mary did not talk down to my wife or make her feel
embarrassed that she did not know how to cook. She loved Dean and praised her
for catching on so fast.
Sixty years later my wife remembers
with the loving kindness of our neighbor. She still has the recipe for potato
rolls that Mary gave her. Mary was an ordinary woman whose love made a
difference to a struggling young wife. Today Dean walks in the light of Mary’s
Jim was a brilliant student. We became fast friends during my first year
in seminary. He was five years older and took an interest in me, inviting me to
study with him. I could not help him but he was an enormous help to me.
By the end of the first semester my
grades were much higher because of the many hours spent studying with Jim.
Neither of us would have called this “love” but I know differently now. I was a
better student because Jim invested time in me. His quite ordinary love made a
difference in my life. .
John warns us not to love the world or
the things in the world. Yet all of us are tempted to want the things that
others have. We want to keep up with the Joneses. This desire for things
prevents us from being content with a simple life.
Few things motivate us to live more
simply than the examples of ordinary people who love God and live quietly
content with little of this world’s goods. I think of Frank and Louise. They
were hard-working folks who lived in a simple cottage that was always open to
us. When friends and neighbors faced trouble, Frank and Louise were the first
to offer help. The example of their love for others still shines like a star in
my sky. Such love is light to live by.
Robert Frost once wrote about a
certain man, “He was a light – to no one but himself.” His was a selfish light
that brightened the path of no one but himself. Caring for others can cause
someone to say, “You light up my life!” People can walk in such light. Hate
shuts out the light, makes us blind, and causes us to stumble in the darkness.
We do have a choice. We can hate and
walk in darkness or we can love and walk in light. In the end, hate loses. Love
wins. So choosing to love puts us on the winning team – in this world and the
next. + + +