How to Conquer the World

The love for equals is a human thing–of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing–the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing–to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy–love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world. ~ Frederick Buechner

I made a checklist as I was reading Buechner tonight. I considered what kind of lover I am. Here are my results. You can try it, too, if you like.

Love for my friends and family and kindred souls. You bet!

Love for equals


Love for those who suffer and struggle, who fail and have been less fortunate than I have been. The poor, the sick, the unlovely and the ungrateful. Most of the time.

Love for the less fortunate


Love for the more fortunate. Unusual category. Love for those who succeed where I fail, for the wealthy, the famous. So far so good. Love for those who have much but give little. Love for the selfish, the arrogant and the prideful. Not sure.

Love for the more fortunate


Love for the one who mocks, threatens, inflicts pain on me. Sometimes. Love for the one who mocks, threatens, inflicts pain on those I love the most. Less likely. Love for the intolerant, the hate monger, the abuser, the torturer. Not so much.

Love for the enemy


For the love of God, I have boxes that need work. I’m a great theoretical lover. But love isn’t theory. If it isn’t practiced, it isn’t love.

You’ll know them by their love. I want to be known for that; known as a lover, the grateful recipient of grace who never, for a moment, hesitates to offer it to others.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

36 thoughts on “How to Conquer the World”

  1. If you go to my old blog and scroll down toward the bottom of the page, the last two posts are on the topic of forgiveness: “Forgiveness with Responsibility,” and “Forgiveness from Another Viewpoint.” I am not trying to promote myself; just trying to contribute whatever I can.

  2. Ah, Debbie, The Lord is definitely trying to show me something today. I have been struggling with anger and bitterness with family members for quite some time. I have been where you were with the man from your church, and with these family members. Monday’s post is about this situation; and I am praying that I finally have a handle on the unlovely feelings I have been feeling. Yours is the third blog I have read tonight on the topic. I just may start putting links on my posts because I seem to find similar posts to my own quite often. Thanks so much.

    1. Dear Drusilla – I think it’s so much more difficult when it’s a family member. The man I referred to was a leader in my church that was having affairs with vulnerable women that sought his counsel. The circumstances are irrelevant though. My heart was at stake and I simply couldn’t see it. At one point I even asked his forgiveness for my hardened heart and he ripped me. I just doubled up on my disdain for him. While all of this is something I’m so sorry about now, I did learn the intense damage that comes from giving into those feelings. I wrote a post on it way back when I was starting TMG: The post isn’t much, but I think you might like the C.S.Lewis quote.
      I will commit tonight to pray for your hurting heart. Please keep in touch. I’m moved by your vulnerable sharing, dear Drusilla.
      ~ Debbie

      1. Debbie,

        I think it is very complicated when dealing with predators–I am convinced that such people are ‘wired’ differently. They need a lot of help psychologically and conversion spiritually. But, generally, it seems to me that they are unrepentant beings who will repeat their offenses against mankind for as long as they live. They will not stop unless there is intervention from the outside. It is possible that the most loving thing to do is to stop them–for their sake and for the sake of potential victims.

        When you asked for forgiveness of your hardened heart, you probably unknowingly and unintentionally presented the reality of his situation to him. Since that reality (as opposed to his fantasy and justification) is unacceptable to him, he ripped you. In other words, he victimized you, too.

        Sometimes, I am unable to love predators. I wrote about this on one of blogs; can’t remember exactly where right now. But, I stated that sometimes the best I can do is simply not to judge people. I leave judgment to God. Neutrality of heart is not the same as a loving heart, but it does prevent me from consuming myself with negativity.

    1. Jeanne – If you mean the photo on my banner, I took it on 101 between Port Orford and Gold Beach, Oregon. This was my view on my commute to work! Hope to end up back there someday!
      ~ Debbie

  3. Beuchner is one of the favorite authors of my favorite songwriter, Terry Scott Taylor. One of his groups, called “Daniel Amos” did a CD called “Mr. Beuchner’s Dream.” I think I may have read one of his books, but I can’t remember. I keep meaning to look him up and read some. Now I know I need to. Thanks again, for the inspiration, painful though it was.

    1. Jeff – How fascinating! Mr Beuchner’s Dream – I’ve never heard of it. As for the man himself, sometimes it takes him pages to say what others might say in a paragraph – but I like him and his heart.
      And yes, it was a bit painful, but better pain than complacency, right? 😉
      ~ Debbie

  4. Debbie, thanks for sharing this post. This is something we can only achieve through constant obedience to God and living each day for Him. You have such a great heart for love! God bless my friend! 🙂

    1. Joyce – You’ve been so often in my prayers since the flooding.
      You’re so right, I can’t simply will myself to love this way. I can only be willing to allow God to love this way through me.
      Thank you for your kind words.
      ~ Debbie

    1. Dear pb – Without a doubt, you’re right!
      I don’t have any particular people in my life that fall into those last two groups but I am able to draw on past experience and my imagination.
      For example, when my kids were growing up, if they were treated meanly by someone, I took an immediate dislike to that person. I’ve had many friends in domestic violence situations, and my response to the perpetrator hasn’t been first and foremost, one of love.
      I’m praying for that kind of heart because I do believe what Beuchner said – God’s love is the love that conquers the world. It’s also the love He gives me to give, if I’ll accept it.
      ~ Debbie

  5. This is an extraordinary quotation. Yes, Christianity can be theoretical–all in the mind as a system of values; or it can be a matter of church attendance–a legalistic fulfillment or a display of false piety. Perhaps, to some degree, we are all hypocrites. Thank you for your piercing honesty. Well done, good and faithful servant.

  6. Loving the enemy is a tough one. I don’t hate my enemy as hate destroys us. However classifying them in the love category is tough. My mom always told me to dislike the deed but not the person. It worked for her.

    1. Jill – Like you, I don’t hate my enemies – I did try that once and you’re so right, it’s entirely self destructive. I believe we are called to love (love, not like) our enemies. I’m still working on that one.
      ~ Debbie

    1. Katharine – From Wikipedia:”Carl Frederick Buechner is an American writer and theologian. Born July 11, 1926 in New York City, he is an ordained Presbyterian minister and the author of more than thirty published books thus far. His work encompasses different genres, including fiction, autobiography, essays and sermons, and his career has spanned six decades. Buechner’s books have been translated into many languages for publication around the world. He is best known for his works A Long Day’s Dying.

      I think the first book I read of his was called The Alphabet of Grace back in the 70’s. One of the things that draws me to him, is that he often is quoted as saying “Who knows?” instead of ‘I know it all.’ 😀
      ~ Debbie

  7. I want to be known for that too, dearest Debbie. I found myself being not as kind and loving this Christmas, to one person in particular. It is someone who is harder to love. At first, instead of repenting and asking for Him to help me love more, I tried to reason out why I needed to be like that. Thank you for helping me put love into practice instead of just making excuses and loving like the world does. 🙂 God bless you and all the love He gives you to give away.

    1. Dear Deb – I had a similar experience years ago, but it took me much longer to come around. I was so skillful at justifying my feeling that the lack of love turned into something very near hate. It took me way too long to see how my reaction to just that one person (a man in my church that I only saw there) was altering the kind of person I was as little bits of my heart hardened. I’m grateful that the Father broke through and drew me back.
      I tried to think of realistic worst case scenarios when I was writing last night and I wasn’t real pleased with the outcome.
      Thanks for being my friend,

      1. See, that is absolutely the Key–what a revelation!! Our reactions–and right here we’re discussing negative ones–alter us, negatively or positively. And as you say, it’s a subtle process–the little bits of our hearts that get hardened or eaten away. One day we look in the mirror, and ask, “what happened??” Makes you want to stay on your toes, listening close for the Shepherd’s voice, the Holy Spirit. Great, great word–thank you so much, sister!

    2. Dear Caddo – I just reread my comment to Deb – I meant to say I WASN’T real pleased with the outcome. There is, however, no point in me attempting to write about Grace, if I’m not honest, first with myself, and then with you.
      Have you ever read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde? Your comment makes me think of it. I may write a post on it sometime.
      Blessings to you, my new friend!

      1. I came back to read this again–it’s one of those “sock it to me” deals–I should have it on my fridge–as sometimes, I only love when it’s convenient (true confession, not proud of it). I can’t recall if I’ve read Dorian Gray–but I’ve seen repeated versions of the movie; the most recent is pretty graphic, makes the point too well, perhaps. But it’s a great story–great, meaning well done; it’s actually horrible–‘specially when you see folks who’ve pretty much done it: sold their souls for youth or beauty, or some such vanity. Oh dear, I was feeling so good after reading the “Harvey” one–better take one last look. Much love to you, my new sister of thistles and heather (I still really love that, for some poetic reason…) Later, CV

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