Last week we talked about three areas that needed understanding in order to help get a better grasp of what was happening in South Sudan.

This week we will chat a bit about the “root of war” as understood through the lens of Jesus.

Jesus says the two greatest commandments are to love God and then to love our neighbor as ourselves, including our enemies.

This by no means is some type of easy accomplishment, but it is possible!

The root of war, whether that be on a macro country scale such as South Sudan or personal fighting, comes from the same foundation, which is self-hatred.

Jesus not only gives a command to love our neighbor as ourselves, but He is also saying, “You will love your neighbor as yourselves.” So, if there is a continual back and forth fight, the issue is “the war within” that originates from a deep amount of self-hatred.

If it is true that war is rooted in self-hatred, then one of the ways forward is to learn how to love ourselves. Now, I am not talking about some type of weird ego-centric pursuit (after all, ego-centrism is the opposite of true love, since true love has self-giving in its essence).

 

Here are a couple ideas that help set the foundation of learning a healthy self-love:

1. Understand that Original Blessing proceeds Original Sin in The Big Story of Scripture.

If you root your narrative and understanding of the need for grace in Genesis 3 (The Fall) you will never properly understand grace, both in the reality that grace preceded The Fall (and is infused into all Creation) and grace will last long after all things have been made new and sin no longer exists. As many have said before, “Sin is a blot on The Story, not the story.”

2. Sin is absolutely real and absolutely devastating.

Yet, if our focus in life is sin centric (by either making too much or too little of it) we will never understand the reality that sin is a mutation of good. Think of a healthy blood cell that has been mutated. It does not make the cell “irredeemable” nor does it mean there is nothing good in the cell. Instead, it is called a mutation because it has mutated from what it was originally created to be, which is a good and healthy cell. Yet, it also did not FULLY CHANGE from being a blood cell somehow.

 

In view of these two short ideas, I have continued to introduce the possibility of peace in many settings, both on a macro country scale and a personal level, by learning to “re-humanize” the person you are in conflict with. Every single person bears the image of God. Let that sink in! It is life changing.

It is important to not only imagine them beyond the violation they have committed, but this is also helpful in not settling for someone continually living in sin either. We learn to expect more.

We want them to live like they matter because they do. If they didn’t matter, then what they did to hurt us would not matter either (I talk about this journey in my book, Imprisoned To Hope).

We want them to walk in a more human way. The way they were intended in The Beginning because although they have been fractured by sin, they are not irreparable. It is a continual call, as we all have, to become who we already are, bearers of the image of God.

War is real. War hurts. Yet, war will not have the last word.

Love has that crowning beauty.

Be aware of how you are loving your neighbor as yourself.

Live loved,

Vernon