A friend Mike and I were talking about how quickly his kids have grown up. He was going to a cheerleading competition the next day to watch his daughter compete. So, he told me how she got into cheerleading.
When the daughters were young, he and his wife told their daughter that she needed to do an extracurricular activity each semester. And, they could pick any activity they wanted. Except … cheerleading. So, which did his daughter choose?
We all know the story of the Garden of Eden: the one fruit that Adam and Eve can’t eat, they go and end up eating. There is something about limits that draw us to them. Especially the one thing we’re not allowed to do.
We need something really good going on inside the fence to keep us from focusing on what it’s like to go outside of it. I call it being on the offensive with love. Instead of focusing so much about fortifying the limits like a good defense, we can focus on making the interior a great and attractive place to be.
That’s what Jesus’ mission was about: generating a community around him crucified on the cross that is filled with forgiveness and love. Where you are busy with all the good to give yourself to, that you’re not wondering what you’re not allowed to do. Paul in his letters write a lot about that: going from the Law to love. It’s about going from the surface limits to the interior, to the center.
So, the next time you find yourself having crossed outside the limits and it’s time to reconcile things again, remember that. Yes, recognize and apologize and offer to make some amends for your role in it. But don’t get bogged down in the struggle to avoid it again. Don’t focus on building a better defense. First, go back to all the good and inspiring stuff that Jesus is and gives. Remember the good you’ve done, and all the good in you. And get back to following it through.
Be on the offensive with love.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:14)