Tug of War


John 12:31-32

31 Now is the judgement of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

As a child I remember playing a game called tug of war in gym class with my friends.  Teams were evenly split on either side of the rope, with a red flag in the middle.  The goal was to get the red flag past a certain spot or the other team pulled over to your side by either falling down or letting go of the rope.  It was all about pulling the other team to your side.

In our world today we see the same tug of war when it comes to the values of the world and those of the crucified Savior. We are being pulled, and sometimes pushed into places of compromise. 

Brueggemann offers us three alternatives in the tug of war of the world’s seduction. “1-The new truth of Jesus, honored by God, is that self-giving love is the wave of the future, and we are called to follow. 2- The Lord of the cosmos has signed on to this alternative we see in Jesus, because that is the very character of God. 3- The new way of suffering in the world is a magnet that will draw us to new life.”

In this struggle of left and right, liberal versus conservative, suffering for what is right or being selfish for what is wrong— we are faced with a lot of ambiguity to life.  What is the true plumbline that we are to follow?  Brueggemann suggests a couple options. “1-To Jesus way in the world, to Jesus’ news, to Jesus’ people who practice generosity and forgiveness and hospitality. 2- Away from the ruler of this world, away from greed, away from fear, away from anxiety, away from brutality.” 

This journey of tug of war is one that we are all on together.  The struggle is broken in the resurrection.  The Easter miracle where we all can be pulled to His side.  In Easter we are drawn to Jesus, the self-giving love that is the magnet that draws us to him. 

It is in this love that we are drawn to him— and in turn this love that has been shed abroad in our hearts is shared with all people that we encounter throughout our days on earth. 

Today in this Lenten season let us be open and drawn to His self-giving love that even now is tugging at our hearts and calling us home to his side. 

“Draw us, Lord, toward you, toward your way of self-giving live.  Draw us away from all that is not love—from the forces of greed, fear, anxiety, and brutality.  In this Lenten experience of so being drawn toward you and away from the powers of the world, may we come to find that new life that is the meaning of Easter.”  Brueggemann


Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.



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