14 February is the Sanctuary’s birthday – and we love celebrating it by sharing the greatest love we’ve ever known… the reason why we do everything we do. And we’ve seen our simple celebrations change the atmosphere year on year. But this year, there’s been something else on our hearts in the lead up to this date too; and that’s just how much more than ever we need love to be at the centre of all our responses…
We need to love as we are loved.
We need to love like never before.
We need to love whatever comes.
On our knees; with our words; with our whole lives.
We need to watch our hearts.
Yes, us… the ones who get it…
The ones who’ve been captivated by Jesus’ love.
The ones who are trying to spend our lives demonstrating it.
Us… yes us… the ones who get that the last come first in God’s kingdom and that he champions the poor, the broken and the weak.
Us who have absorbed that God hasn’t changed his mind about charging us to welcome the stranger.
Us who are outraged that people could put his name next to any other plan than sharing what we have with whoever is in need. Whoever.
Because our righteous anger and Proverbs 31:8-9 commitment can so quickly become charged with something else.
Love can’t take hostile ground with any hostility present in it.
That isn’t love. That’s a house divided against itself that will surely fall.
If our prayers for changed hearts lead us away from loving those denying others love… then love has not won.
If our words to change minds begin to forget God’s image in those who are dehumanising others… love has not won.
If our actions to transform policies, practices and provision – or our horror at who has power and how they are abusing it – start to categorise someone as irredeemable… love has not won in us.
Instead, love might just be losing the ground it once had in us…
Keep speaking up lovers of justice.
Keep challenging all that exploits the poor and broken and everything that excludes the refugee.
Keep praying for deliverance.
More than ever.
Keep signing petitions, going on marches, tweeting the truth and filling your conversations with stubborn hope and persistent, dogged welcome.
But seek, with Christ’s help to take every thought captive, to not let anyone – anyone at all – be thought about, prayed for, or spoken of without a trace of love… however unloving they seem to be, and however hard it is to love them.
Try always to resist reducing individuals to their surnames or their roles or their political positions and opinions on anything.
Remember who we’re really fighting.
Ask for Jesus’ help constantly.
And, with the power of his Spirit, together, let’s love all hostile ground into submission until its taken and softened and loving again. Even if we don’t see that day ourselves. Even if in some instances it never comes and always says no to Jesus’ better way.
Can we love more recklessly than we can ask or imagine is even possible right now.
Because Love has already won the war. And the best way we can win each battle is by fighting it in love.
Lord Jesus –
Love made known to a hostile world –
you stared hatred in the face
while you hung on the cross,
and loved all who destroyed you,
themselves and each other
with reckless, resilient love.
Show us how to still turn over tables –
with passionate, intolerant commotion
about injustice, exploitation and profiteering religion –
but without somehow flipping our hearts
half over and wholly out of love
in the process.
we need daily help
to tell the truth in love
in our conversations,
social media feeds,
and most of all, in our prayers.
fill us with your love
for those who do not love
the valuable and vulnerable.
And this way, let’s take the hostile ground
remaining in their precious, fearful hearts
by challenging them always and only in love.
Ed. If you found this blog helpful, you might also want to take a look at this article and prayer guide – a gift t0 2017, with love from psalm 72 The prayer guide from that blog is also available with the prayer from this blog here, in a collection of written prayers: for challenging leaders, and us as we challenge them