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Out from the Bunker

When something bad happens to other people, I’ve noticed an internal knee-jerk reaction: I try to assure myself that what’s happening to them can’t happen to me.

He’s older and eats worse than I do.

My marriage is stronger than that.

My kids know not to talk to strangers.

There aren’t volcanoes/sharks/warlords/super villains in my neighborhood.

Whatever the thought (and notice, some may in fact be true), at core, it’s an attempt to barricade myself from the reality that I am vulnerable to being hurt. It’s a defense mechanism.

And it works contrary to love.

You can’t love another human being from behind a barricade. Selfless love and self-protection aren’t compatible.

Sometimes this is obvious, like when I pretend I don’t see the man with the vacant stare and the piece of cardboard that reads, “Homeless. Please help. God bless you.” The rationalizations flow, but in most cases, it’s just self-protection that keeps my window rolled up.

Other times it’s more subtle, like when I want to rush someone through their grief and offer words and prayers where what they need is something more costly: a friend who trusts enough to simply be present with them.

As I read through the gospels, Jesus seems to live and love differently. If the incarnation weren’t enough of a manifestation of this, His crucifixion surely is. Instead of trying to protect himself from others’ pain—from our pain, from my pain—He entered into it.

It might be a hard reality, but if I want to walk with Jesus, if I want to love truly, I have to be willing to experience pain.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Today, are we willing to lay down our defenses for love, to walk with the One who lovingly entered into our pain?

If we do, we might begin to find something unexpected: His life at work to bring about resurrection.

I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.

  • Where are you avoiding the pain of another human being whom God is calling you to love?
  • Who have you been trying to “rescue” because their pain is painful for you? How might you love them better?
  • And finally, are you willing to ask Jesus if there’s a painful place in your life where you need Him to enter?

Unprotected,

Josh

7 thoughts on “Out from the Bunker”

  1. wow!! just this morning I read from Matthew 21:32-34 how the two blind men cried out and when they were told to be quiet they cried out all the more!! Then Jesus said to them “what do you want ME to do for you?” Of course HE knew what they would say but still HE wants us to ask that of people “what can we do for you (all in the name of Jesus)” but that is a costly question! Thank you for this. He is so merciful to us, Amen!

  2. Jesus talked seriuosly about losing your life and you will find it and if you hold on to it you’d lose it.

    As long as we love our lives more than Hin and His Word we will always have a barrier to block us from being a fully
    surrendered vessel that outpours with His love.

    The early church loved not their lives unto death.

    We aren’t really living His Life until we lose our lives and love not our lives until death.

    Instead we fill ourselves with churchy stuff ,going to Bible studies , prayer meetings , seminars , reading this , doing that, going here/ there but not obeying Him to
    love one another fervently the way I’ve loved you.

    Maybe we all in fresh humility and repentance return to the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ

    1. Thanks for sharing this article. It made me think and reminded me of a bunker I visited in Northern France. We were producing television news stories about the 50th anniversary of WWII.

      The Germans had built the bunker on top of a hill. Picture burying a submarine in the ground and placing a gun from a navy destroyer on top of it. It would lob huge shells up to 7 miles. It inflicted terrible losses on the allied forces. But, as the German military lost battle after battle, the German soldiers inside the bunker found themselves abandoned, surrounded and trapped. Their enormous cannon was meant to attack at miles – not yards. They had no way of attacking the allied forces, just outside the bunker. On the other hand, the bunker was so secure, the allied forces could not get inside. The allied commander ordered his forces to pound and pound and pound the bunker with ordinance. It didn’t physically hurt the Germans – but it did drive them mad. And… as each person lost their mind, the others pushed them outside the bunker doors – where they were shot by the allies. In the end, only a few survived and finally surrendered.

      It kind of reminds me of a lot of small churches I’ve read about. The congregation – once an amazing weapon for truth, salvation, and healing in people’s lives, become abandoned by their families and their community. Those left behind hunker down inside the walls of their church. They push anyone who makes a mistake out the doors, where they are devoured by the enemy. Then one day… the unbelievable happens. One or two lone people lock the doors of the church for the last time and walk away. It happens across the country every day.

      Spiritual warfare and physical warfare have a lot in common.

      Unlike the German war machine, God’s church will not fail. We have been promised victory. But, how many small churches have we left out behind enemy lines – dying on the vine? Mega-churches have gobbled up many of their congregation members. In the old days – that was called “sheep stealin’”. I’m not suggesting that mega-churches are a bad thing. The possibilities of combined resources is amazing, in that venue. I’m also not saying the small, dying church should continue to function the way they have throughout the past few decades – but what if mega-churches realized that some individuals prefer a smaller, intimate setting – that small churches serve a purpose? What if there was a conscious effort to reach out and share program ideas, resources, combined mission trips? Perhaps if The Church would work outside of their stove-pipe mentality, we would win more battles for Christ.

      Thanks for making me think this morning. 😉

    2. I agree that it’s absolutely impossible to completely love someone without being completely vulnerable to them, and I have experienced the positive and negative aspect to this reality.
      Married to someone for two years who treated me like dirt, cheated on me, and verbally abused me, really opened my eyes to how much it hurts to entrust your feelings to someone who doesn’t appreciate them.

      But I have since gotten divorced, and now I am vulnerable to someone who cherishes and protects me, and opening up to him is so worthwhile, because when I let my walls down he comforts me, cares about me, and shows how much he loves me.

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