Love Is a Battlefield
Pat Benatar penned a song with those lyrics. In her song, she is talking about young lovers standing together against the heartaches of life. You can sense the desperation of her tone when you hear the song, almost like she is living in the anticipation that eventually something will come along to drive them apart.
Love being a battlefield reminds me of the church. If I am going to be completely honest with you, reader, then I have to say that through my experience of the last year, having to rely on God, having lost everything and being slowly restored, – like biblical Job or what the mystics would call having an experience of the Paschal Mystery – I can say that I truly understand the grace of God. My experience with it has been personal and life changing.
Before all of this I would have said that I understood grace. I would have been able to present God’s grace to someone in a compelling way. (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense! How clever!) But, I don’t think lived my own spiritual life, or many times my interactions with people, in the authentic understanding of grace. Rather than believing that God loves me so that I can change, I effectively believed that God will love me if I change. Often, my treatment of people, or lack of compassion for them, what guided by this belief.
Brennan Manning has observed that the “church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded.” From my own experiences both given and received, this seems largely accurate. Richard Rohr notes it this way, that the majority of religion is more concerned with rituals, moralities, and group conformity rather than knowing ourselves and how the self that was created by God can relate to Him. So we tell people Jesus is the answer (which of course He is, but we leave it very nebulous what that means practically, probably because most don’t know themselves), sin no more, get in a Bible study, and serve somewhere. That becomes the entry into the spiritual battle of most.
Love is a battlefield.
The spiritual life is a battle. Jesus demonstrated that. The Bible pictures it. Yet I think it is something the church forgets. Forgets that in a battle there are casualties. No one’s spiritual path is going to be without hurts or setbacks. That is the reality of living in a fallen world and coming up against an enemy that rages to take as many as he can to their doom.
So on our battlefield, we shoot our own. Offering condemnation and arrogance. On our battlefield, we leave our wounded. Obviously they were not authentic or else they wouldn’t have struggled and fallen. The body is supposed to offer comfort from the comfort we’ve received. God freely offers his grace and mercy and we are to do likewise.
I’ve always taken the teaching that “if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” as literal water. I’m sure that is true. But is it possible that Jesus is talking about the living water of himself, his refreshing grace and his comforting mercy that we are also to offer his disciples? Certainly that is a legitimate possibility.
Living in the grace of God is changing my view of people and what they need, and I hope to be able to pass that perspective on to others as they walk their own journey and participate in the spiritual battle.
Thank you God for your never ending grace that has been greater than all the approval that I could receive from pleasing others. It has helped me break free of the bondage and lies of my fears. It has helped me not to be overcome by the awareness of my core sin, but to use that awareness to admit my dependency on the One Who Is Greater. It compels me to not repeat the patterns of my relational system. Grace is guiding me to strength and greater trust in the Most High. It is leading me on my journey toward living the life of love. All for Jesus.