By Joe Moss
What a crazy, confusing time in history to be living?
So much division… so much violence forced into full view by every media outlet. Hatred is highlighted and fueled by agenda driven sides. And the blame game perpetually forces all of us to choose sides in the war.
If you’re like me, it’s too easy to saturate my life with negative news. And before I know it my feelings towards people begin to lean toward anger, bitterness and then hatred. I don’t even have to make a decision in a given matter… just by merely watching history unfold in front of me I fall on one side or the other. The bitter fighting and gnashing happening all around me is enough to arrest my thoughts and opinions, whether I consciously decide how I feel or not. The dark side of humanity seems so much stronger than the light. (But it only seems that way!)
Regardless of your personal feelings on the recent violence captivating our nation, hatred is the central idea dividing people. Even being accused of being hateful or racist is enough to spur certain folks into, ironically, angry-hate filled speech.
For us Jesus followers, I think the Apostle John makes a very relevant point in 1 John 2:9-11 The Message (MSG):
9-11 Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others. But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness
The Apostle John hits the nail on the head in 1st John 2 when he describes the believer who only claims to be in relationship with God yet still hates others. It doesn’t work! Plain and simple. You can’t be in the light (meaning true relationship with God) and hold hate in your heart for others. “But whoever hates is still in the dark, stumbles around in the dark, doesn’t know which end is up, blinded by the darkness.”
Doesn’t that sound like so many people in the world today? I even know some Christians who have become enamored with anger and hate due to recent events. Blinded by the darkness of hate, so many people today can’t see the light and love of Jesus.
I don’t want to hide God’s light from others because I’ve allowed bitterness towards people that are different from me to take root and grow into hate. I don’t want to stumble around, blinded by the darkness of this world because of a few bad cops. I don’t want to wish bad on those who disagree with me. I want to be in true fellowship with God, allowing light and love to show up in my conversations and expressions. And that means surrendering my frustrations to Jesus just as I have surrendered the rest of my life.
Lord, help me to surrender all my concerns and frustrations. Help me to lay down my need to be right. And help me to see that my relationship with you must be centered in your LOVE so that I my heart can sincerely care for others in a way that honors you. Heal those parts in my heart where anger or hatred towards others has taken root. And help me to remember and pray for those whose lives have been directly impacted by the recent violence. Amen.
Joe Moss, Worship Pastor