Hearing the news of the people who were killed in prayer meeting is disturbing to say the least. As we remember them…let us not remember that 9 people were killed. Let us remember these people…individuals…people who were in the house of God. These were preachers and coaches and young people. These were people who had families and lives and made a difference in their community.
As we remember them and pray for their families and their loved ones, it is a reminder that hatred is never okay. It is NEVER okay to hate someone regardless. Not once does Jesus condone hatred. The OT speaks of God’s hatred but in a manner of disdain for sin. We are not God. And, we are all sinners. Hatred is never okay.
Jesus said that his disciples would be known by the way that they LOVE. Of all of the characteristics, it is that they will be known by their love. Loving is not easy. Loving takes work. Loving takes effort. Love is difficult and trying and painful at times. Love is messy and confusing. But hatred is never the answer. I think of how Jesus told us to love God and love others. I think of how he reached beyond the ethic boundaries of his day to show love. I think of how he told the parable of the Good Samaritan. I think of Paul reminding us in Romans to transform and renew our minds.
It is also never okay for us to think more of ourselves that we think of others. We are superior to no one. We are the church. We are servants. Our Lord and Savior washed feet. Our Lord and Savior never owned anything and never had a place to lay his head. Our Lord and Savior spent years with the man that would betray him. And, we are reminded in Philippians that Jesus humbled himself in the ultimate humility. If Jesus did not think of himself as better…how can we?
The question then is how we as a church show love in our community. How do we show radical love that shakes the foundations of the institutions of our world with a love so intense and driven by the love of God that it changes things? How do we so love with the love that God has poured out in us that we stand for justice and peace…but not in violence, rather in love?
Love does not mean that we sit by and watch things happen. Love does not mean we let people run over us. Love means we take a stand for what is right. Love means we don’t accept hatred. Love means that we are willing to stand united to show what it means to follow God in a way that transforms. Love does not go with the mainstream. Love is different. The love of God reminds us that hatred and superiority are NEVER OKAY. What can do you with the love that God has given you? What can we do as the church with the love that God has poured out in our hearts? How can we truly love like never before?