Saturday, May 17, 2014

Love is the Weapon of the Future

Something I know is that we are all children of God. But even though I know that I often have trouble believing it in this fallen world. Because something else I know, with every fiber of my being I know this one truth:

God is love.

So why is there so much anger in us and the world we have created if we are children of Love? Perhaps saying God is love may seem a trite oversimplification of the unimaginable greatness of God.

But is there anything more powerful, more all consuming, more sacred or life changing than love?

I'm not talking about the "love" that blindly worships anything and everything, that insists there can be no judging, no criticism whatsoever. No, that is not love - that is cowardice and lies. Christ was a perfect example of love but he guided, taught, criticized, challenged, even got angry. How can God be love and still capable of anger? I think that is a stumbling block for many in their refusal to accept the Bible as divine. They know that God is supposed to be love. Love is what we all want to worship. At our core we were born to be children of love. The youngest and innocent among us demonstrate that clearly with their natural inclinations towards love.

And so, I started to really think about the nature of love and anger. I have heard that hate and love are two sides of the same coin. You cannot know one without the other and while there may seem to be a chasm between them, it is often only a very fine line. It is tragic but true that those who often bear the brunt of our anger are those we love. That anger we so desperately throw at our loved ones is at best a cry for help from one lost in their turbulent sea of pain and at worst a selfish desire to inflict the pain that we can't escape onto another, to bring them down with us. That type of anger is evil at its core. It is the antithesis of love. And if indulged too often it can become a terrible tragedy, it can become who we are. Because that type of anger burns love - there is no room for something as wonderful and beautiful as love with something as terrible and ugly as selfish anger and pain clouding our hearts. 

Indulging in selfish anger is much like eating only sugar - it might give a temporary high that feels like power, like passion, almost like love in the intensity of it - but it will burn and leave you with nothing but a seared mind and charred conscience. It will not change anything - it will not spread love. It will only wage war and destroy until it implodes like a black hole.

Recorded instances of God professing anger, even wrath, may make us uncomfortable because we all want to believe God is love. And God is love, but love does not lie and so it will never assure you you are "perfect just the way you are" and you only have to "be yourself" to be happy. No, love challenges and changes. God's ultimate purpose is to "bring to pass the immortality of man" - to save and exalt us, but He cannot do that without some hard love. His anger is only a righteous anger - one that is not at all motivated by selfishness or a misguided attempt to assert superiority. Its only purpose is to save His children. He punishes them for sin because that is what a loving parent does. He warns, he sends his messengers, and then if all else fails, when man has become so consumed by selfish anger that all the love has been extinguished, he destroys. For God is love and selfish anger cannot exist in the presence of that kind of love. He will use whatever means necessary to save men from their fallen anger and pain, even if it means the destruction of the wicked.

We were made to love. But love does not accept evil. It fights it, sometimes with righteous anger. When motivated solely for the benefit of others anger has its place, and can indeed be loving. We must always check ourselves for any hint of selfish pain, and measure the effect of our anger - whether it will help or hurt. For example, yelling, name calling, hypocrisy, and belittling are all sure signs of selfish anger. They can only serve to harm and spread pain. Courtesy, consistency, service, sacrifice are all signs of righteous anger and love. They promote healing, even if that healing requires painful surgery and treatment to remove the cancer of evil. Love is not easy or accepting, but it is right.

Evil must be fought under the direction of God's prophet, and sometimes it even involves a sword. Even a sword can be wielded in love if it is done to protect the innocent, justly and with love predominating. Captain Moroni in The Book of Mormon is a prime example of loving, righteous anger. Never did he shed blood selfishly, always he was motivated to protect the wives and children and freedom of his people, and he earnestly sought to spare lives and end the bloody war he waged. Even in the midst of war and tyranny he fought with love. But he did fight, ruthlessly when necessary.

Thankfully, most of us are not called to make the difficult distinction between love and anger in such drastic, perilous circumstances. But we are fighting a war against evil. Every single day we must fight, and we must do it with love. Unyielding, selfless, bold.

I could never have shot a gun at another human being before becoming a mother. I would rather die myself than kill another. But I would take a life to protect my daughter and it would be an act of love and terrible sacrifice. Love does not mean being a doormat, but righteous anger will never justify tyranny or bullying either.

What I've realized is that both love and anger can be used in either a wrong or right way. When love is used as an excuse to remain in a bubble and never break outside a comfort zone, to promote blind acceptance even in the face of evil it is merely a mask for evil. And the devil is master of disguising evil with the most sacred of masks. When anger is utilized for good, is fueled by love, then it is of God. In the end, the only way we can determine whether we are being led by righteous love or crippling infatuation, by selfish anger or righteous indignation is to listen to the Spirit and remember that "by their fruits ye shall know them." 

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