The other night, my wife and I watched a movie released last year. It was entitled, Patriots Day. When it comes to movies that’s often the way it works for us. We see them about a year after everyone else. Anyway, it is a graphic depiction of the events leading up to and in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing that occurred in April of 2013. It is not a movie for the faint of heart or for those who are easily offended by language. However, it seemed to me to be a pretty realistic look at the way things might have unfolded during those tragic days.
Near the end of the movie, the character played by Mark Wahlberg, a Sargent with the Boston Police Department was having a heart to heart conversation with another officer. At one point the officer asked, “Do you think this is preventable?” As Wahlberg’s character begins to unwrap his thoughts about that question, he made a statement I have not stopped thinking about since I heard it. He said, “(The) only weapon you have to fight back with is love… Wrap our arms around each other and let love’s power feed us.”
Of course, he was not suggesting that precautions are unnecessary or that we not root out terrorism wherever it rears its ugly head, but he was reminding us that in a world where violence has seemed to become a weekly occurrence, we do not forget that the search for peace always begins with the power of love.
This was part of what was at the very heart of what Jesus came to show us. Not only that God loves us, but that we are to love one another. Jesus tried to show us that when we truly love one another, bridges can be built over deep divides, social justice becomes a reality, people who are broken find healing, the wounds of bitterness give way to the bonds created by forgiveness, and there is a resurgence of hope and human dignity.
Jesus also showed us that it begins right where we live and work every day. It begins with our everyday relationships with other people. It begins with the people you live with and the folks you bump into in the grocery store. It begins with your colleagues at the office or the other students with whom you go to school. It begins with the man behind the register at the convenience store or the person who waits on you at the restaurant. It also begins with the people who hurt you, talk behind your back or drivers who cut you off on the road.
I do not want to make this sound easier than it is. To love other people can sometimes be the most challenging thing you will ever do in life, but in a world that seems to be failing to work things out with what Philip Yancy calls, “Unlove,” maybe it is once again time to give love a chance.
So today, I challenge you to try it. Start with something easy, like doing something sacrificial for a member of your family, or making an extra effort to say a kind word to someone who is serving you, or to write a letter to tell someone how much they have meant to you.
And when you graduate from that first step, try reaching out to someone with whom you have a broken relationship. It will take some courage and it may not work out. But then again, you never know what can happen when you exercise the power of love!