In the new Star Wars movie (no spoilers here!), there is a line of dialogue meant to frame the whole adventure:
“That’s how we’re gonna win – not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.”
Like all compelling ideas, this one sounds nice, but it's incredibly hard to put into practice.
We have lots of good things we say we’re fighting for – our families, our nation, the future of the planet – but when we search our hearts we may have to admit that the prize we’re really seeking is the thrill of vanquishing our enemies.
When you have a strong feeling of righteous passion – about politics, about your career path, about your relationships – it’s worth asking, what is my most basic motivation here?
Am I trying to build something beautiful?
Protect something of great value?
Make the world a better place?
Realize a creative vision?
Am I just terribly angry?
Am I bitter or resentful because of the way I’ve been treated?
Do I hate something or someone and just want to destroy it/them?
These may not be mutually exclusive (you can hate what’s evil and love what’s good at the same time), but I have a hunch that, in most cases, one kind of motivation is ahead of the other, as the driver of our choices.
If feelings of anger and wrath are the most powerful forces in our lives, even if they are justified by facts, we will not be able to experience true joy, or grow good things in the world around us. We may be able to hurt somebody who deserves it, but that’s not the ultimate purpose of our lives.
The ultimate purpose of our lives is to build and grow in beloved community, to thrive in relationships of mutual care and enrichment. We can do this by walking the path that Jesus forged, the path of peace, generosity, neighborliness and trust. And in so doing, we give glory to God.
There will be times that we must confront wrongdoing, and fight for what’s right. Look around and you may surmise we are living in such a time, right now. But remember, we’ll build the world we want to live in, welcoming the very kingdom of God, not with hatred, but with love.
The Table is a Christian Church in Davenport, Iowa, pursuing transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Worship Sundays at 5pm
102 E. 2nd St. Davenport, Iowa 52803