Complications. Webster’s dictionary defines them as “a difficulty, or a making complex, intricate, involved, or difficult.” Life is full of complications. Sometimes they’re self-imposed, other times as I mentioned on Monday, different people cause them. Read a story or watch a movie and see all the complications that befall the main character. They are simply essential to an engaging story, but the truth is, they hurt, and we hate them. We’re fine watching someone else, especially fictional people, go through complications, but it feels like cosmic disaster when we face our own difficulties.
Take the dog, Buck, for instance. He was living the good life in California on a judge’s estate, king of the grounds by birth and luck only. Then a gardener steals him from the judge and sells him off to dog traders looking for big strong dogs to pull sleds during the Yukon Gold Rush, and Buck’s life becomes nothing but hardship as he moves from one abusive owner to the next.
The story of course is The Call of the Wild by Jack London and tells the tale of a dog, half St. Bernard and half sheepdog, who through all the complications thrown at him, returns to his most basic instincts, that of the wild, that of the wolf. One miserable human being, and vicious dog after another whittles away at the canine’s idea of civility, until he meets John Thornton, a prospector, who saves his life, befriends him, and treats him with kindness.
Very clearly, the story is about the primitive instincts that lie just below the surface in each of us. Only the veneer of civilization keeps these primal natures in check. And sadly, today we only have to watch or listen to the news to see that civilization is finally failing at keeping those harmful or bloodthirsty urges in check for certain individuals, even our political leaders.
The first instinct, every pun intended, is to ask why this is happening now. What is happening to civility? Why are there so many mass shootings, racial attacks, religious persecutions, genocides, verbal abusers, and megalomaniacs running amok in our society? But if we park here, we only risk further argument while the haters and abusers continue their rampage.
Why don’t we instead move straight to the one thing that will save us from this violent end? The Call of the Wild very clearly states it in the relationship that forms between Buck and John Thornton. It is the love John feels for the dog, and in return Buck’s love for Thornton that compels Buck to keep returning from the wild to be with the one man who cares about him.
Love is the only way to combat this return to our most primitive and vicious instincts. Love has always been and always will be the answer to the world’s complications and woes. And we have an example of that perfect love that’s capable of saving someone else from his/her basest instincts: Christ. And I don’t mean the person that so many finger-pointing, so-called “Christians’ claim to follow. I’m talking about the very Christ who “although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And all because of his love for us. Christ came out of love, to show love, live love, NOT as so many vain sin-sniffers seem to claim, to give us a rule book, or judgment, or condemnation. He came to live sacrificially, and in so doing, offer Himself as the means to know God. That’s the love I’m talking about. It’s the love that can tame the savage beast. So give love, live loved, and have a great weekend.