In the movie “A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood” there is a powerful scene where Mr. Fred Rogers asks his friend to take a moment and just remember all the people who have loved him to where he is today.
It’s an exercise I have been trying to do lately: Making an effort to remember and focus on all the ways that those around me have sacrificed for me, and poured their love and affirmation into my life, and have shown me acts of service and kindness.
It’s amazing the effect this has on me. The fear of rejection, and sense of insecurity and alienation starts to dissipate and is replaced by a sense of feeling loved and protected.
It’s so crazy how our thoughts naturally gravitate to the ways we have been hurt and obsessively doubt if we are liked or loved. Left to its own paths, our brain will constantly focus on what could go wrong and compulsively pick at the scabs of doubt and confusion.
My experience of the world is so different when I firmly direct my mind to focus on all the gifts in my life and the ways people have loved and supported me.
This past year many North Americans have had a first taste of having civil rights, protected in our charters of freedoms, taken away. There is strong disagreement about whether the threat of disease justified the government removing these rights.
This has raised difficult questions for believers about when to obey our authorities and when to resist.
It’s easy to apply the commands in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 about obeying every ordinance of man when it comes to laws against stealing or murder.
But what do you do in the grey areas when the government mandates make it challenging to fulfill other biblical commands like hospitality or gathering for worship?
Obviously it is a complex issue, but what might the Bible suggest as a short answer to the question of when to obey and when might it be okay to disobey?
If you look at the context, the chapters before and after the biblical injunctions to obey earthly authorities, you see two prerequisites to these commands:
The most insidious thing about hate is that while it’s relatively easy to spot in our enemy, from the inside, our own hate doesn’t feel like hate. It doesn’t feel evil. In fact it feels like a desire for justice, a passion for purity, and a desire to rid culture of immorality. It can even feel like a desire for God’s glory.
Hate hijacks noble desires, which make it a destructive force, and cause its carrier to become immune to the conviction of the conscience. It’s why people full of hate feel so righteous as they cause church splits, civil wars, abuse on minorities, and even genocide.
We all despise hate in other people, and obviously want to be motivated by love. But when hate feels so righteous, how can we test to see if we are truly being motivated by love and holiness, and not just hate and pride and self-will?
How do you get people to plug their ears to the cries of a suffering people? How do you get young men to march children and grandparents to their deaths? You encourage a spirit of hate that dehumanizes the other.
The only way a human can cope with killing and torturing another human, is to refuse to look at the other’s humanity and see them instead as an animal, a social menace, or a threat to personal safety.
The apostle John wrote that he who hates his brother is a murderer. Jesus warned of the danger of anger and hate by comparing them to committing murder in the heart.
Hate reduces our view of other people to a label or a one-dimensional threat to the causes that are important to us.
When viewed through the lens of hate, other humans are no longer thinking, feeling individuals, with dreams and hurts and insecurities. They are instead problems that need to be fixed or dangers that need to be quarantined or eliminated.
None of us would ever let hate so infect our hearts that we would commit genocide… right?
Hate doesn’t start with murder. It starts with a subtle irritation toward those with differences in opinion.