I have been procrastinating. God put this topic on my heart weeks ago and I have been chewing it like cud ever since. He just won’t leave me alone about it.
The racial tension, political tension, whatever tension that continues to rise in this country, sickens me. I have never been one to like any form of confrontation. I always apologize, whether the fault is mine or not, to break the tension and end the feud. In grade school, I remember being at a slumber party where two friends were at odds. I shut them both in the bathroom in order to mediate their argument because I couldn’t handle their bickering.
We spew hate to the left and the right. We shamefully criticize those who differ from our opinions. We point fingers when we can’t, don’t, or try to understand. Social media has given us the opportunity to be a little more passive about our spewing, but we hop on, bashing and blaming, hurting and hating.
At first, I thought this post might be a little like I am preaching to the choir. The five people who may or may not read this aren’t haters. I don’t associate with haters.
Until I became one.
I started hating those who don’t share my viewpoint. I began grumbling and complaining about those rioters and racists. I was increasingly annoyed at all of the people trying to find someone to blame for whatever offended them.
Being opposed to the actions of a people group is okay, right? In no way do I condone any of the malicious behavior I am seeing all over the country, however when my opposition becomes so extreme, affecting my attitude, anger and hate emerge.
Before my frustrations went any further, I forced myself to my knees:
“God, what am I missing? What is the answer to all of this?”
“I know, but…”
“For who? People on the left? People on the right? The violent protesters?”
“Pray for your enemies.”
“I don’t have enemies. I don’t like confrontation, so I try not to create any enemies.”
“All of those who you oppose, you are treating them as if they are your enemies. They are a part of my creation just as you are. I died for them just as I died for you.”
On his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:43-48, The Message
An attitude of anger and hate takes me further from the God-created identity I was given. Grow up sounds a little harsh, but I think it is pretty accurate. We’re hardly acting like Kingdom subjects, here. We can preach love and respect all day long, but when we actually respond with the energies of prayer, before expending our energy on social media, we can expect change to happen. Although we want our enemies to change, most of the time, the change that happens, and needs to happen, is within our own hearts.
I have a long way to go on this. I would much rather pray for healing, blessings, and all of the warm fuzzies that make this life enjoyable, but as this world grows darker with hate, I have to choose not to be a part of it. Crawling under a rock is not the answer, nor is simply smiling at the next person I pass by in the grocery store. Its not enough to bring change.
Prayer is the only way to keep my heart from hate and motivate me to love. Social media isn’t going to do that, neither is the news and its debatable truth. It’s time for me to grow up and live like the Kingdom subject God says I am. Maybe I can motivate others to do the same.