Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Gospel of Hate

I am currently struggling with the gospel of hate. The rampant call to fear and hate those who are different than us is overwhelming my senses. It is on the news, in social media, within friend and familial relationships, on bumper stickers and signs and in every day conversations. "They", fill in the blank, are wrong, different, dangerous, racist, liars, manipulative, over-educated, under-educated, lacking patriotism, terrorists, evil, lazy, mentally ill, and on and on and on. "We", fill in the blank, are righteous, patriotic, honest, protecting our nation, hard-working, real Americans, healthy, right, Christians, and on and on and on. The point is that there is an us and a them. They are dangerous and must be stopped. We should be afraid, angry and fighting. If we do not wake up and take charge, then they will overwhelm us and destroy all we love. This makes me fear for my babies, for their future. Will they be an us or a them? Will they be on the right or wrong side? Will those people get to them and hurt them? How can I protect them?

This wears me down. The constant noise. The repeating of statements and manipulation of soundbites. I don't just hear it in the media, but in my everyday life. The political memes, articles, and angry statuses. The invitations to join this or that movement. The constant cruelty makes me tired. People are proselytising hate,committed to the gospel of digging in and building up walls of anger, bitterness, jealousy and fear. It is so easy to get caught up and join in. 

The world IS changing. The world IS a mess. The world HAS always been that way. The world IS supposed to be that way. We live in a broken society.  If our society wasn't broken, we wouldn't need salvation. There is a sick nostalgia that tells us that the world used to be perfect, it used be everything we wanted it to be, but now, now it is Babylon. Buying into this lie is dangerous. The Bible is a long catalog of a broken and sinful world. It was perfect in Eden, pre-apple, pre-banishment, pre-sin, but from that point on the world was and is sick. If it wasn't than why would we need salvation? When you glorify the past, you eliminate the need for Jesus. 

As a christian in this messy world we are called to change things. "We" are the lucky ones who have found salvation and been forgiven. If we respond to the call to hate, if we divide ourselves into "them" and "us" we will change things. We will create more division, we will be in a world that caters to our concept of right and justice, we will be surrounded by people who agree with us and support the same things. We will feel righteous and correct, leading charges to exclude and eliminate those who don't fit into our mold of those who deserve salvation. This is what happens when we put ourselves in the way of salvation. 

The messy world is built off selfish human desires. We are built to hate and divide. We bring that into the world. It is our natural inclination to selfishly protect ourselves and those we love. It is easy to rationalize our actions and cling to our petty justifications. We don't have to forgive, we don't have to engage, we don't have to interact with "them" and can give a hundred reasons why. Christ's love is the opposite of this. His salvation rises above our selfish desires, goes beyond our hate. The love we are offered is unconditional and all encompassing. In return we are asked to reflect that love back to the world. That is how we change the world. Not by embracing their gospel of hate, but by countering that with the more powerful gospel of love. 

"Beloved, let us love one another. For love is from God, and anyone that loves is born of God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God. For God is love." 1 John 4:7-8

If you can't love, you don't know God, because God is love.  We are called to love. Not those who are who like us, not just those who agree with us, but everyone. 

"Owe nothing to anyone-except your obligation to love one another. For he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law" Romans 13:8

"Love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:31

Clearly, love is the major motif here. Love, isn't limited to a certain group or cause. Neighbor isn't clearly explained. We are simply called to love. This is hard. It is the exact opposite of our instincts. Our nature cries out against it. How can we love those we fear? Why would we seek to love someone who hurt us, or another person we love? It can't be possible to combat the chaos and hatred we encounter on a daily basis. God is asking too much of us.

He really is. We, the fleshly selfish beings we are, cannot possibly be expected to do more than embrace the gospel of hate. We will categorize people and remember their wrongs. In some cases we actively seek to vilify those we do not understand or know. In some instances churches support this by "educating" their congregations on the dangers of one group or another.  We are weak. I am one of the weakest. I love judging people. I am super good at it. I love to think about what they have done wrong and mull over the ways they are inferior to me. I can easily list all the reasons I don't have to forgive someone, and why I am justified in my opinion that they are dumb.

So how do I, an embracer of the gospel of hate, learn to love so that I may know God and fulfill His law? It is rough, but here are some steps that have helped me shift towards the Gospel of Love.

1. Surrender: I suck at loving. I can't do it on my own. I have to actively seek God. Sometimes He pushes me to love at moments I really don't want to. Recently I have watched someone's actions truly hurt my Mother. I really wanted to bring down the Gospel of Hate. REALLY WANTED TO, but just as I was gearing up, a small voice told me to pray. Not for them, but for me. To ask God to help me surrender my anger and allow Him to teach me to forgive and love this person. I am currently praying this daily.

2. Walk Around in their Shoes: In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells Scout she can't understand other people until she walks around in their shoes. He is sharing wisdom for us all. Atticus couldn't imagine a world where we all walk around looking at screens and never in our neighbors eyes. Social media makes us forget that we are all humans. It makes it easy to judge, we are never at risk of stepping into another pair of shoes. Yet, we all need to do this. A few days ago I read some truly hateful comments on an article about a former student who is transgender. I was heartbroken. I have walked beside this person. I know they have feelings and dreams. In them I see my own children. We all need to put down the screens and start walking in the shoes of our fellow humans.

3. Love those who hurt us the most:  I have a relative who has made some shockingly poor choices. Those choices have upended the lives of my entire family. It has ripped what was a solid family unit apart. Sides have been chosen, lines have drawn, siblings don't speak to one another and it all boils down to one person's choice. This makes them hard to love. I don't want to. Again and again I find myself having to surrender to God. Having to pray. Having to fight against my basic human nature. I have to choose to believe that God will fix our family. His love is powerful enough to save all of us.

4. Faith: If we believe the world is a broken horrible place and we are called to change that place, then we must have faith that God's love is powerful enough to overwhelm our base natures and transform us into reflections of His loving salvation. The impossible becomes possible when the Holy Spirit is allowed to pour out love through us. Only then can we meet people where they are, love them for who they are and not expect them to change.

5.Do Something: God has been challenging me, not to sit at home and write a blog, but to go out and actively love. This means actively praying for God to create oppurtunities for His love to shine through me. It means embracing the idea that I don't have to understand or agree with someone to love them. I am still struggling to follow this call to humble myself and wash the feet of my neighbor. The other day I made myself go across the street and check on neighbor. I had to make myself do this, because I am busy and the baby was tired and it was rainy and I didn't want to try. God kept working on me. He answered my prayer to embrace chances to show love.

The Gospel of Hate is powerful and seductive. We all have been ardent missionaries spreading the message wherever we go. Luckily, The Gospel of Jesus is more powerful. This Christmas season, let's all try to be missionaries by spreading the message of God's unconditional love wherever we go. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


7 is the number of years I waited for my family to be complete.
7 is the number of times I thought I was pregnant.
7 is the amount of clomid rounds I did.
7 is the time I checked in for Teddy's delivery.
7 is the number of years we were married when Harper was born.
7 is the age Ashley was when she lived with us.
7 is the number of hours I pushed with Harrison
7 years is how long Egypt was in famine
7 days is how long it took God to create the Earth
7 years is how long Jacob worked for Rachel (and then 7 more after being tricked)
7 years is how long the Israelites were given to the Midians
7 years is how long it took to build Solomon's Temple
7 years is how long David had to wait to be crowned the King of Israel

It feels as if we have come out of a desert. We spent the past seven years focused on creating our family, and now we have the rest of our lives to build that family up. I was unsure that we would ever be at this point. For a long time, I was angry and bitter and sad.  I have been amazed and awestruck and astounded. My heart has been taken from me. I know now what real sorrow is. I also know happiness like I have never know before. I understand contentment. Patience has a new meaning. Life has slowed down and sped up at the same time.

Love is what we relied on when it was dark.
Love is not as simple as we thought it was.
Love is what kept us going.
Love is harder than I thought it was.
Love is what God showed me when I didn't deserve it.
Love is what our friends and family poured out on us.
Love is discipline and hard choices
Love is choosing to let go of what you want
Love is giving you child a peaceful death
Love is the sound of your little boy running to hug you
Love is the smile your baby gives when you kiss her
Love is the exhausted husband who stayed up so you can sleep
Love is the Mom who comes to help because you are her baby
Love is a God who gives us all this when we don't deserve it.