Hate is too heavy to carry very long.
It weighs us down and bends us over. It is a terrible burden. The word, "hater," is among the worst of insults. I don't see my self as a hater. Other people are haters.
When I attended trials for the people who broke into my house and held a gun to my head, I was taken aback that their family and supporters would look at my wife and I with hate--real hate--in their eyes. During a trial, affected parties are not allowed to speak to one another. Even after the sentencing, we can not talk, because we have a no-contact order in place. I was privileged to have brief exchange with a family member of one of the men who broke in. This family member apologized for the stern looks. I believe she meant it. She doesn't want to be a hater either. Neither does her relative.
Really, who wants to be defined by what they hate?
And yet, I find myself drawn to self-righteous indignation that always leads to some degree of hate. When I focus on my moral convictions, when I look closely at the political landscape, when I dig myself into the concerns of justice; somehow, it always birth's hate. I don't want to hate, but when I approach others from the perspective of our differences, the impostor/sinful nature/flesh looks for the opportunity to plant seeds of hate. Hate is a heavy burden.
Perhaps this is part of what Jesus means when he says, "Take my yoke upon you . . . For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matt 11: 29-30 Like Peter walking on water, when we focus on Jesus--the author and creator of our faith--we are able to fulfill his commandment to love one another (even our enemies); but when we look around at the wind and the waves, we begin to sink back into old habits of self-righteousness and judgment. I confess, I am easily distracted. The troubles and cares of this world readily interfere with my ability to live life with a capital "L" -- Life as God intends for us. I am easily frustrated. Too often, I put duty ahead of relationships when Jesus wants me to make relationships my duty. This blog is tremendously, embarrassingly revealing of me and how easily I am distracted by the cares of this world.
I recently finished reading a book by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis, called Tea With Hezbollah. From that, I found Carl's blog. If the book and the blog have not stretched me enough, I am also reading Abba's Child, by Brennen Manning. I am starting to feel like Stretch Armstrong . . .
Jesus' burden on us is to love one another -- not just love our friends, but to love our neighbors, and even love our enemies. Our task is to be ambassadors of his love, and through love reveal the truth about him: that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The reason for this love is to draw the lost to Him and show them grace. This loving grace does not mean we escape temporal consequences of our actions, but it leads us to belief in the one who created us and pays the consequences for our inherent disobedience. I must love others--I must love my enemies--because Jesus loves me. And He did not wait for me to clean up my act. He loved me while I was still an enemy to Him.
He (Jesus) is the only one who makes these outrageous claims about God. He is the only one who teaches us of God's lavish and extravagant love. That's why He is the only Way--the only bridge between God and man. How do we know He is True? We know because He lived the way he preached and He was put to death for His message of loving enemies. How do we know He is Life? We know because His death was not the end of the story, He was resurrected. He brought Himself back to life on the third day. His resurrection is the promise that someday we too will be resurrected to be with Him eternally. And closeness with your author and creator forever . . . this is heaven.