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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lovers, not fighters

by Niki Turner

My first childhood pet was a long-haired orange and white cat who adopted our family ... probably because my mom and I kept providing food. I christened the animal "Charlesina," later discovering Charlesina was actually Charles.

A lifelong alley cat, Charles was prone to disappearing for the night, only to return limping and wounded, with torn ears and a scratched nose. My folks would shake their heads and comment, "He's a lover, not a fighter."

As a Christian, I can relate.

There's as much fighting in the body of Christ as there is faith, it seems. The latest controversy revolves around Pastor Rob Bell and his latest book. You know it's a BIG controversy when questions about church doctrine show up on Good Morning America. (I will refrain from further comment until such time as I have read Bell's book for myself.)
While that's a big skirmish, there are plenty of little fights underway. Choose your battles carefully, dear Christian! Are you sure that's a doctrinal hill you're willing to die for, in light of the true mountain of God?
What we write and what we say are an expression of what we believe to be true.

Like my childhood cat, there are battles aplenty out there in the cold, dark streets of the world. It's so easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of debates and arguments and name-calling. But that's not what we're called to in Christ Jesus. We're called to be lovers.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:9-10 NKJV
Walking in love, choosing our words and actions according to the law of love, is the ultimate act of a warrior for Christ. Not spewing vindictive accusations, not waving a placard, not defending and justifying ourselves, not fillibustering on blogs and message boards. Loving your neighbor as you love yourself IS the action of a Christ-fighter.

Will you be a lover, or a fighter?


Niki Turner writes romantic fiction, Christian non-fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. Her first completed manuscript won second place in the 2009 Touched By Love contest for contemporary category romance. Colorado natives, Niki and her husband of 20+ years have four children (three at home) and are soon-to-be grandparents. In 1998 they planted a church in rural northwestern Colorado. Currently, they share their home with three teenage boys, two black Lab mutts, and Niki’s absurdly spoiled Westie, Archie. Niki can be found at In Truer Ink, her personal blog and website, here at Inkwell Inspirations, and at The Pastor’s Wife Speaks.

13 comments:

  1. So often the only part of that scripture we hear is "love thy neighbor as thyself". I often forget the part that says love fulfills the law. Thank you for a fresh look at that passage.

    There are so many Christian groups out there who are doing the exact opposite of loving their neighbor. How is picketing a fallen soldier's funeral loving your neighbor? Unfortunately these are the actions the media broadcasts. They are giving Christians a great big black eye. It would be an amazing world indeed, if we all lived the words of that scripture.

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  2. I agree, Suzie. We get into conflict to defend our perception of righteousness, and then promptly break the most important commandment of all!

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  3. I think we waste way too much time fighting about human words for spiritual realities that we can't quite capture anyway. Are heaven and hell "literal"? Maybe, or maybe that's as close as we can get to capturing whatever the true reality is with our teeny tiny human brains. Who will make it to heaven? I personally like Brian MacLaren's answer to that question: It's None of My Business. I do my best to follow the word of God and encourage others to do the same, but only God knows our hearts. Is God one with different manifestations, or three in one, or seven spirits? I have an opinion, but at the same time the whole conversation makes my head spin. Explain to me how this effects the way I should live, and maybe I'll consider fighting about it.

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  4. I think we waste way too much time fighting about human words for spiritual realities that we can't quite capture anyway. Are heaven and hell "literal"? Maybe, or maybe that's as close as we can get to capturing whatever the true reality is with our teeny tiny human brains. Who will make it to heaven? I personally like Brian MacLaren's answer to that question: It's None of My Business. I do my best to follow the word of God and encourage others to do the same, but only God knows our hearts. Is God one with different manifestations, or three in one, or seven spirits? I have an opinion, but at the same time the whole conversation makes my head spin. Explain to me how this effects the way I should live, and maybe I'll consider fighting about it.

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  5. Absolutely right, Dina. God is SO big, and yet so personal and individualized. I'm sure His heart aches when we bicker and squabble and generally act like a bunch of Pharisees.

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  6. Great post, Niki. Reminds me of a quote by Rupertus Meldenius that I try to remember when I'm struggling: "On the necessary points, unity; on the questionable points, liberty; in everything, love."

    Love! Mercy! Grace! God freely shows them to us yet in His name we often show scorn and judgment.

    I don't know what's up with Rob Bell's new book so I'm going to have to investigate!

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  7. I had no idea there was a kerfuffle over a new Rob Bell book! I am a bit secluded in my busyness right now. Anway, I think you're right Niki, that the most important, and probably most overlooked ingredient in a Christian life is love.

    Probably because we can't show agape through our own power. It can only come through God, which means yielding our will to His. A tough assignment.

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  8. I'm a lover.

    I only fight as a last resort - like if my life or the lives of my family are threatened.

    Anita Mae.

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  9. I did hear about this mess because I listen to a very large Christian Radio station that covers about half of two states, and someone did some research into the controversy. It's big stuff - a big point in the doctrine of the church and one that is sure to cause division. I tend to worry about how it will affect non-believers more...
    but then I remember God is bigger than all of it.

    Thanks, Niki for the reminder. And I love the quote you found, Susie.
    Very nice.

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  10. Susie, FANTASTIC quote. One I will be saving, for sure! Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Anita, I think that's how it's supposed to be.

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  12. Deb, good point... how does controversy affect non-believers? Those who are struggling with their faith?

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  13. Good points all.
    Love never fails.

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