There is a principle in fiction that all stories are told in conflict. Conflict reveals character. We never get to know someone so well as we do when we see how they process information and the decisions that they make.
Sunday a young man asked me to train with him in Krav Maga this fall. Two years ago, when I presented the possibility to him, it was a simple way to honor a request from his father, who at the time was among my best friends.
Now it is an exercise in loving my enemy, and in loving my neighbor as myself.
But it also reveals something about me. I don’t have money to share with others. I have no special wisdom or academic prowess to share with Matthew. He’s already better educated in math and science than I am. But I have a lifetime of tricks and a love of training.
If I were 20, and had a chance to train 1 on 1 with someone, for free, to learn self defense, I would want them to take me up on it.
Hidden behind the lines, an aspect of my character is revealed. A long time ago Matthew grabbed me by two fingers and drug me around half of his house, explaining the various Lego robots that he had there, what each of the features of each part of the Legos were, with such zeal and excitement that it made an impression. First, with some math and science behind that zeal the kid is going to be a great engineer. Second, there is a good heart underneath the formidable mind.
Both the little eight year old kid he was and the earnest young man he has become have a right to whatever little bit I can teach him, so if he follows through and shows up, I will give what I can, and count it a joy to share some of the love of training and the confidence of self-defense that I have cherished all my life.
Another point of character is revealed: about my beliefs. God is a mighty warrior. He is loving, gracious, kind, and tender, but those qualities are highlighted because he is not weak, but strong. For a man to be a warrior (not a thug, a fighter, or a Pharisee) is part of the Christian’s privilege to, by the Holy Spirit’s help, be conformed to the image of God.
So not only is this about loving my enemies, loving my neighbor as myself, but it’s also about helping a brother in Christ conform more closely to the image of God.
Can you guess which answer I gave?