serving or intended to preempt or forestall something, especially to prevent attack by disabling the enemy.
I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about what our world needs. It feels loud and harsh. It feels unfamiliar and remote. Mostly, it feels angry, unsafe, and more than a little broken. My natural response is to quietly retreat and insulate myself as much as possible. I’ll keep to my familiar routines, known and trusted faces, and a sliver of the world I can identify with.
It is dangerous out there, so let’s keep it safe in here.
My instincts are preserving the wrong thing.
My silence is comfortable, but it doesn’t make the world any quieter. And my distance will protect me, but maybe I’m not supposed to be protected. In fact, maybe it’s the opposite. Perhaps I’m supposed to risk myself in pursuit of love.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. Luke 10:25-28 NIV
Love. Not safety, not peace, not quiet. We are commanded to love. In the Bible, the man that Jesus is talking to tries to carve a way out, to make his command more palatable. He asks “But who is my neighbor?”
Bad news, fellow introverts. It’s not our physical neighbor. It’s not our friends or our family or even the people in our own community. Instead, Jesus answers his question with one of his most famous parables — the story of the Good Samaritan.
A Jewish man is robbed and beaten and left on the side of the road. A priest and a Levite (basically a priest’s right-hand man) both passed him by and did not offer help. Then came a Samaritan. A little Internet research tells me that Samaritans and Jews did not get along. In fact, their religious leaders actually commanded them not to intermingle. They were to have nothing to do with one another. They were the ultimate Us versus Them.
But the Samaritan was the one who stopped. He tended to the man’s wounds, took him to a place where he could be looked after and even provided the funds, should he need further medical care.
He was his neighbor, not because of proximity but because of compassion.
Our world can’t be healed by screaming the loudest or sharing the perfect meme or blog post on Facebook.
The healing starts more simply than that, but also much, much harder. It starts with love. Not a familiar love, but a preemptive one. One that has the power to stop the Enemy in its tracks.
Our enemy is not the Them. Our enemy is hate, it’s misunderstanding, it’s fear. When we love our neighbor, we shine a light on all of that darkness. Just as darkness ceases to exist in the light, so fear dissipates in the presence of love.
Darkness is merely the absence of light, and fear is merely the absence of love. If we want to be rid of fear, we cannot fight it but must replace it with love.” Marianne Williamson
We were created from love. We were given free will from love. We are saved by love.
Now let us be defined by our love.
P.S. Over at Coffee + Crumbs, my other Internet writing home, we’re collecting donations for Preemptive Love Coalition. Drop $5 in our online collection bucket, and we’ll send you a snazzy “Love Never Fails” downloadable print. Every penny will got to Preemptive Love to support their work in our world. Donate here.