The battles that really count in life are the ones raged in the soul. Whether those battles are won or lost pivots upon the undefeatable mark of Christianity: love. Theologian Frederick Buechner writes in the Magnificent Defeat:
Love for equals is human
for the less fortunate…beautiful compassion
for the more fortunate who succeed where we fail… rare
for enemies—the tortured for the torturer—is God’s love.
It conquers the world.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes my love can seem pretty puny. Far from world-conquering, especially when I meet rejection, betrayal, indifference. Yet this is the way Christ calls us to live. He knows better than anyone how ill-prepared we fallen creatures are for such encounters. That’s why he not only has shown us how, but has imparted a bit of himself—in us—to carry out the task.
We are faced, then, with a choice: let the sins of the world and weaknesses of others incite us to react in kind, or access the love Christ has embedded in us…and shine light in the darkness. He gives us the opportunity to stop wearing ourselves out with endless mental arguments as to why we’re in the right and therefore justified in our judgments and instead lay our wounded depleted souls at his feet for healing and replenishing.
It costs something, though. It cost God everything. The One who made all things became nothing so we could become something. For as the Scripture says, even if we have mountain-moving faith, mystery-solving knowledge and body-surrendering sacrifice, without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13). He spared not one thing to bring us into this life of love.
And what of our cost? Pride. Selfishness. Insecurities. Fear. Rationalizations. Bitterness. We lose something of ourselves every time we choose love. But in the words of Buechner, what a magnificent defeat!