Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
June 4, 2017
Hate causes the lights to go out
People love a good fight. When I was young I got into a lot of fist fights. Some of those fights were with Harold. We often had short fights during recess at school. Our schoolmates cheered us on; they wanted to see blood.
We fought with bare fists, skinning our knuckles. We did not bother with body punches; our target was the other’s face. A bloody nose and the fight was over
One of my last fist fights was the shortest of all. As we squared off to fight, Harold hit me between the eyes and the lights went out. I woke up flat of my back staring into the blurred faces of laughing friends. That fight changed me. It cured me of wanting to fight.
There is a lesson in my fist fights. Hate causes the lights to go out in human relationships. Choose to hate and you plunge into darkness. Hate robs you of the light to see where you are going.
The Bible spells this out clearly. John, for example, says “Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling.” The choice is obvious: love and walk in the light or hate and walk in darkness.
Loving people in the biblical way is practical, not theoretical. It is simply caring about the down-to-earth needs of the people around you, something ordinary people can practice daily. Love “happens” when one is surrendered to Christ. It is the primary “fruit” of the Spirit at work in our hearts.
When we married my wife did not know how to make dinner rolls. An older woman, a friend and neighbor, took Dean under her wing and graciously taught her how to make potato rolls. She did not talk down to Dean or embarrass her. She praised her for catching on so fast. That is the way love works in everyday life.
Sixty-five years later Dean remembers with joy the loving kindness of our neighbor. Dean walks in the light of her friend’s love.
In seminary Jim and I became good friends. He was older and took an interest in me. He invited me to study with him. I could not help him but he was an enormous help to me. Soon I realized that my grades were higher because of the many hours spent studying with Jim. Back then neither of us would have called this “love” but I know differently now. Jim invested time in me and helped me become a better student. His quite ordinary love made such a difference that I remember it 50 years later.
Robert Frost said about a certain man, “He was a light – to no one but himself.” How tragic! The man’s selfish light brightened no one’s path but his own. To love as Jesus loved will 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.
The media daily broadcasts the horrific results of hatred in our world. God’s kind of ordinary love is seldom highlighted. But biblical love is our best 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. + + +