That this followed so quickly on the heels of another hate-filled man sending pipe bombs to targeted men and women who have been either leaders or vocal in their support of a particular ideology underscores the evil hatred that lurks somewhere nearby, just under the radar for most of us.
That such an attack happened in a house of worship should give us all greatest alarm. One of the highest virtues of our system in America is the freedom to worship without fear of governmental control, and without the fear that what happened Saturday could ever happen. We’re still recovering in many ways from a similar incident in a Texas Baptist church 51 weeks ago, proving that any faith, any house of worship can become a target of deranged hatred.
Disagreement is part and parcel to a free society. Debate is the discourse that allows us to present the rationale, hopefully a rationale that is reasoned and moral, in our democratic republic. Healthy debate, healthy disagreement is a good thing, allowing us to not only understand differences but to work toward living together with them in peaceful ways.
If you read the news and especially the commentary (which is what this piece is) you’ll find finger-pointing and blame being passed around. It especially concerns me that those claiming to follow the Prince of Peace can spread vitriol toward others with whom they find offensive rather than seeking the “ministry of reconciliation” to which they’ve been called. Look up 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.
Sadly, somewhere in the last decade the notion that disagreement equaled hate became popular in many. That translates into the idea that a vote for one is hatred for the other. That translates into the idea that if one’s world view is influenced by a particular theology it must by default hate those who adopt a different world view. That notion has in itself resulted in a growing hate between us in so many ways.
Hatred for another because of those differences, whether religious, political or racial is destructive to the foundation of our society. And there are societies built on foundations of hate, who only seek to either convert infidels or if that is not possible, to kill them off. In a small way, that is what took place Saturday morning. That is what was attempted last week as bombs were mailed.
There has to be a better way. The Good News is that things can change and that anyone can become a new creation, allowing the Creator to fix what’s broken in each of us. I’m actually a believer that indeed, things will change for the better. It’s why I pray, “Your Kingdom come”.
Ultimately the blame is on the brokenness of humanity. Of course, we’re not all haters. We’re not all terrorists or mass-murderers. Some are broken in ways far deeper than most. And it is true that words, more than anything flame the misguided passions that become hate, whether those words emanate from the church house, the White House, or your house or mine.
I can't get past Saturday's synagogue massacre. How is it rational or moral to hate people because of their religion? (Of course, the answer is, "it isn't"). I'm unashamedly Christian, and I disagree with many other religions' basic tenets. But disagreement and hate don't need to hold hands. Not in a Christian's hands.
Let’s cry out against hatred while at the same time keeping our disagreements civil. Let’s realize that to truly hate one of us is to hate us all, regardless of color or creed.
Let’s realize that to hate Jews is to hate Jesus. Jesus said hate is the moral equivalent of murder. And to hate Jesus has many ramifications, none of which are to anyone’s benefit. To hate Jesus is to hate Christians – His followers. To hate Jesus is to welcome an eternity separated from Him in Hell.
Hate is just wrong. Let’s stop the hate.
Rick Lawrenson is the Lead Pastor of Nags Head Church.
© 2018 Rick Lawrenson