Across the nation and around the world the headlines of news outlets are replete with acts of hatred toward mankind. Murders, thefts, injustice and downright meanness are all too often what we read about. But why—why is there so much hatred? Being a small fish in a large pond it is easy to see these situations as something too far beyond our ability to make a difference. Instead, what often follows is a turning inward toward oneself and on one’s own life while leaving others alone to live out theirs. We see this in the statement of escape, “To each his own.” But is this the correct attitude to have? Should we just “Live and let others live?”
I think the question is really a deeper one than we may think and is very much dependent on how we have been raised and where we have chosen to stick our noses in the “garbage in and garbage out” process of learning. As with all process there must be a starting point—a beginning where thoughts are shaped and emotions are melded. Maybe it begins with understanding what it is that has played the largest part in shaping our moral and ethic? Because in reality, it is there that our thoughts begin to take root eventually forming who we are.
As a child I grew up in a small town that was somewhat isolated from the world around us. Even more so, my family was isolated; not because of geographical circumstance but more so by choice. My father was an alcoholic. We had one car and I had four siblings. Since he never got home till after dark we were often stuck in our own little world. Oh, I had had fun doing the things that boys do, fishing, playing ball, riding bikes, teasing my sister etc…, but what I missed out on most was the fun and activities that the other kids at school would share; things like going to the movies or going out to eat or going on trips to visit distant relatives, Disneyworld vacations and the like. This isolation did have an effect on instilling within me the idea that only a few fortunate individuals enjoyed those amenities—most others were like me; at least that is what I told myself. I figured when I got older I would get to enjoy them as well. But something else occupied my thoughts more than pleasure and entertainment and that was the emptiness of feeling unloved by others. The dichotomy between hatred and love—between belittling or defaming and accepting others was the elephant in my small room. I did not understand childish hatred because I was never hated at home. My mother’s love and sibling acceptance was enough to sustain me for the moment. However, since I could not relate to the adventures of the fortunate few who often boasted of the amenities they enjoyed I immediately stuck out as the proverbial “sore thumb” becoming the recipient of their sneers and jeers. Honestly, I wondered if they knew how much it hurt.
It was those very circumstances that God used to show me how to love. The emotions that drove me mad from the ridicule and being the target of their jokes induced within me a strong desire to be different. To me their attitudes were ugly-unattractive and dark. I knew then that it was not what I wanted to be. When the time came one hot summer for Vacation Bible School I finally found what true love really was, I found out that I was not alone in the world and that there is a God who cares. His name is Jesus Christ. What other religion in this world can boast of one who suffered a cruel death on our behalf and then defeated our greatest enemy, death—all to ensure the availability of eternal life for all mankind? (see 2 Tim. 1:10) What other religion can say they serve a God who intercedes for them from the throne of heaven, ensuring their peace and security, twenty-four hours a day? (see Heb. 7:25) What other religion can boast of their god being the Creator of all things in heaven and earth, the Redeemer of all of mankind, the Lover of all people of all races, the Provider of all things present and all things future and Giver of the treasure of His life—eternal life? There is none. Yet even though that is just a sampling of who Jesus is, comprehending those attributes is almost beyond our human ability. Truly, only “Love” could bring about such things.
I believe it is time that all of mankind drop their guards. If you were raised in a hateful environment it does not mean you have to be hateful. If you have been mistreated you do not have to turn and mistreat others. But I realize we cannot change ourselves. But there is one who can—Jesus. He suffered more torture against Himself than any of us will in our lifetimes. But He did not have too. Even He said Himself that He could call down 12 legions of Angels to deliver Him from death. (see Mt. 26:53) But He didn’t. He endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right-hand of God (Heb. 12:2) and for what? For you! He saw you and He said I must endure this cross. I must in order to bring hope and life to this broken flesh-driven world. So he did.
So again I ask, “Why must this world be driven by so much hatred?” If Christ gives us an example of how true love is supposed to be lived out, i.e., sacrifice—putting others first, drawing close instead of pushing away, seeing value in others instead of condescension, loving not hating, etc… why is the world so apt to shun His love? The answer is simple, control and accountability. People want to control their own lives and actions. Even though not all of mankind is as wicked as the physical murderer down the street, there have been times in our own hearts when murder has been committed spiritually through deep seated hatred. Jesus was clear that even hate towards another constitutes murder in your heart (see 1 John 3:15, Mt. 5:21-22).
This and so many other sins place us under the rod of the Holy, righteous and just judgment of God. But the Love of Christ is so deep—so wide, that He is willing to wash all of our sins away if we will only believe and trust in Him as our Lord and Savior. His life for yours is the message of the gospel. His love is a love that transcends all sinfulness and iniquity. Like Paul the Apostle I state unashamedly this day:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:24-25 (ESV)
Oh sinner like me, sit-up and listen to the still-small voice of God as He whispers your name. How awesome is the everlasting love of God!!
John 3:3, 16, 17 –Your life His Treasure