I wish that I could say that I am surprised by the hateful events of this weekend. But to be quite honest, this is becoming an all-too-common part of our American life. I am disgusted by it, yet it exists in the very fabric of our culture. Adults no longer know how to civilly disagree with one another. Instead, they attack–unleashing fury on complete strangers who may just not agree with them.
Yesterday’s events were about race. But let’s be honest–hate is showing up in all shapes and sizes these days. Somehow, we have forgotten that we can disagree and still love one another.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God Whom he has not seen–I Jn. 4:20.
Honestly, in this day of social media, it’s easy to hide behind our computers and spew out hate against people we don’t even know. It may be about race or sexuality or religion or politics or breastfeeding or baby-wearing or organic eating or school choice or… What starts out as a simple point of view, preference, or belief becomes fodder for someone’s hateful and disgusting comments. We may not take action in events like the one this weekend that hurt a lot of people, but we aren’t afraid to bite, slap, and slander from the confines of our own home. We are outraged by events that spread hate but then create our own diatribe online.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear–Eph. 4:29.
We may sit in our pews on Sunday but spend the rest of the time proclaiming how right we are and how wrong someone else is. I see it every day in my newsfeed, and, sadly, many times, the hate is coming from the very Christians who were worshipping together earlier that day. It has to stop, and it starts with you. And it starts with me.
But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so–Jas. 3:8-10.
As Christians, we must call sin by its name. But in calling out sin, I think we have forgotten that we can hate the sin while still loving the sinner, which is who we are as well! Christ condemned the sin of the Pharisees and the prostitutes and the tax collectors. He called men to be his disciples who were some of the most despised of society. He redeemed them, just as He does you and me! And He loved them well.
And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them”–Lk. 15:2.
We don’t have to agree on everything to break bread together. We can be adults and agree to disagree. There is no shame in loving others well. But there is shame to be had when we allow our disagreements to fester into hate and violence.
Let’s be honest–we do notice the outward appearance of one another. We notice the things that make us different–whether it’s skin color, hair color, piercings, tattoos, clothing, weight, height, etc. To say that we don’t notice those things would be a lie. What we need to say is that we aren’t going to concern ourselves with those things. We need to worry about the heart, specifically our own hearts. How are we treating one another?
When violence erupts from hateful rallies, what can we say? We feed the hate by our own response. We egg the hate on when we don’t respond with love.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law–Rom. 13:8-10.
I am stunned and sickened by the events of this weekend, just as I am stunned and sickened by the hate that causes wars around the world that leave children as orphans or that makes profit from sex trading young girls and boys or that allows the raping of women. I am stunned and sickened by the hate that allows us to stop seeing each other as people and helps us to act like animals instead.
So what can we do? If we truly want love to win, then we need to do all we can to promote love. We need to allow diversity around our dining room table. We need to listen to people of all walks of life and actually hear their story. We need to guard our tongues and “let [our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). We need to stop worrying about being right and start worrying about defeating hate. Together.
My church’s motto is “the Gospel changes everything.” The Gospel can change hearts filled with hate and fill them with love instead. The Gospel can take a worthless sinner like me and fulfill God’s purpose for the world. The Gospel can take what man means for evil and turn it around for good.
As we process the acts of violence that happened in our country this weekend, let’s follow God’s example for us:
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another–I Jn. 4:11.
P.S. Love wins in the end.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love–I Cor. 13:13.