by Pastor Mark Jordan
“We love because God first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’ and hate their brothers or sisters are liars. After all, those who don’t love their brothers or sisters whom they have seen can hardly love God whom they have not seen! This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.” (1 John 4:19-21, CEB)
I largely fasted from the news and social media while on vacation last week, and I’m glad I did; I’ll admit, though, it made re-entry more difficult. I feel heartsick and disturbed by the violence afflicted on innocent people last week…those that received a lot of media attention, and those that did not. I need hope. I need love. We all do. But there is something else we need, and that is to check our motives.
There is something sinister happening among us, and it is tearing us at the seams. It isn’t anything new, but it seems to be on the rise: hate in the name of virtue. Friends, this is an oxymoron, and an abomination to the Lord. It is destroying the fabric of society, and bringing decay to God’s creation. It must stop.
Today’s passage teaches us that we cannot mix our motives of love and hate. We cannot love the God who created us all if we hate those God lovingly created. If you think you can hate another person, and be virtuous in so doing, you are deceived; in fact, the scriptures call you a liar. Harsh words, indeed. There is no place for such hatred, racism, and bigotry in the world with the cruelty and division it brings.
I know that there will be lots of policy discussions and political debates in the coming days, along with those which have already taken place. Before we can weigh the merits of possible legislative solutions, we must first check our motives. A virtuous society depends upon a virtuous people. It’s easy to get caught up in the groundswell of our echo chambers’ group-think, so we must tread with great caution. I saw and heard examples from both ends of the political spectrum about who to blame and hate in times like this, and all it does is push us into our respective corners. We cannot dabble in hate and think we are virtuous to do so.
Will you join me in praying today for the soul of our nation? Let’s lift up all those whose lives are shattered, those who care for them, and for the work of our leaders. I also ask for you to address the issues every one of faces that contribute to such damage. Will you pray for your own spirit and motives to make sure you don’t trip down the slippery slope of hate in the name of virtue?
I pray so.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I come to you heavy under the burden of grief, and I ask that you do not let me fall into despair. So many things can happen to my soul when I do not turn to you in such times, and seek illumination of my own motives in connection with you first. You made every one of us in your image, and love us so dearly. Help me to love you and love all your children…the people you’ve given me to do life with. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.