I had a college roommate, Tom. We had an agreement to take turns washing dishes. However we lost track of whose turn it was to wash the dishes. Neither of us thought it was our turn, and thus the cold war of dirty dishes ensued. The dishes got higher, the leftover bites of ramen noodles and mac and cheese on the counter started to sour.
The Secret Weapon
However, in this cold war, I had an advantage. Tom hated dirty clothes in the adjacent bathroom. So instead of amassing nuclear weapons to force Tom to do the dishes, I mounted a different cold war strategy. The mountain of dirty underwear. I stopped taking my dirty underwear out of the bathroom. The stack got larger. The cold war tension grew stronger yet the dishes still mounted.
Then I decided to take it to Def-Con-5. I gathered up my mountain of dirty underwear and created an arrow. I made an Arrow of Dirty Underwear and directed it to the mountain of dirty dishes. I figured the mountain of dirty underwear must not have communicated the message.
A Rude Awakening
That night I went to dinner at a families home who was mentoring me in my new-found Christian faith. I thought our little cold war saga was rather humorous and I shared what I thought was a brilliant tactical move: "The Arrow of Dirty Underwear."
Then everything changed. My mentor shared a simple and yet profound alternative: "Have you thought about doing the dishes for him? Even if it is his turn, do you think that would be the loving thing to do?" I can honestly confess, I had not considered that a powerful disarmament strategy could be a selfless act of service. I was completely floored. I was deeply moved and simultaneously embarrassed. I felt God’s Spirit welling up within me and I was hungry to employ the law of love.
I left early and rushed home with a new mission on my heart. I was overjoyed to see my undiscovered Arrow of Dirty Underwear. I quickly dismantled this weapon of mass destruction. I went to work with a new and unbeatable weapon: Love. I washed the dishes with unction. I washed dishes with heart and emotion. It was a massive turning point in my life. As I washed, I was hoping and praying Tom did not come home.
Shock and Awe
I now sat in the living room. The faint smell of Clorox drifted into the living room from the clean counters. In walked Tom. Since we were not speaking, Tom said nothing and rushed through the living room. He entered the kitchen. The silence in that moment was as loud as an atomic bomb.
Tom stepped back into the living room and with a palpable sense of awe, he asked, “Did you do the dishes?” Everything changed. The Cold War was over. The treaty had been signed. The tense and negative atmosphere melted in an instant.
Love is a powerful weapon. Serving another, even if they are unworthy, can send a very powerful message. Doing something for someone that they not deserve changes us and others. Ronald Reagan shared those now famous words near the end of the Cold War, “Mr. Gorbechav, Tear Down This Wall."
What about you? Is there an opportunity to love someone in Jesus name? Do you have the equivalent of a mountain of dirty underwear that needs to be torn down?
Love never fails.