The past year and a half have brought a lot of changes to our world. The pandemic has changed our world. Our culture has changed. Attitudes of people have changed. There is a lot more anger, fear, uncertainty, distrust and discouragement. Many have resigned themselves to the fact that the burden is too overwhelming. Many look at all that is going on in the world and are just, “I don’t know what to do or what to think anymore.”
I am reminded of the verse in Romans 12:21, which says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” As followers of Jesus, we are called to overcome the darkness in the world—and we will overcome because God is greater than all that is in the world. 1 John 4:4 tells us that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” That is so encouraging to me to be reminded that God is greater in me and, He and I can handle whatever comes our way.
So, if we are to overcome evil with good, how do we do that? What does that “overcoming” look like? Overcoming does not look like responding to anger with greater anger. It is not retaliation or vengeance. Overcoming is not even resignation or retreat. Overcoming is taking positive action according to our faith in Jesus.
The root and foundation of our overcoming has to be love. Love is where it all starts. Jesus summed it up by saying, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” He also included loving one another and even loving your enemy in that command.
We can define love in all sorts of ways. But the Bible defines love and what love is supposed to look like as we live it out in our day-to-day relationships. The Bible teaches, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15
There is a lot of ugliness in the world and sometimes we just want to shut out the world and live our own lives, isolate ourselves. And maybe we need a break from the news or social media from time to time. But we can’t retreat from the world completely. But we can and should live our lives, as followers of Jesus, to make a difference wherever we live. The Bible calls it being salt and light, which is being an effective change wherever we are and wherever we can. And God will help is do so.
With God’s presence in us and helping us, we can be compassionate and kind and gentle and patient. I can forgive. I can love as Jesus loved. And I can find his peace amid the chaos.
I Corinthians 13 is known as the love chapter of the Bible. You might have heard it read at a wedding. But it is written about relationships of all kinds. This is what our overcoming love should look like in whatever relationship stresses we are experiencing. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Love is more than a great feeling. It is also an action word that is something we do. “Doing love” is a very practical way we can overcome all the evil and all the chaos and all the anger in this world. As followers of Jesus, God has called us to not just pretend that the darkness doesn’t exist, nor have an attitude that it is too overwhelming and “I can’t do anything about it.”
We can do something.
We can overcome hate by loving God and loving people. We can overcome evil by doing good to others. We can overcome the darkness by bringing the light of Jesus shining through our lives. We can show love by doing that which God’s love calls us and empowers us to do. Love will overcome.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love,” according to I Corinthians 13:13.
• The Rev. Dan Wiese is pastor for the Church of the Nazarene. ”Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.