I’m new to wearing glasses. After the first day of trying to adjust, I was convinced they made my vision worse rather than better. It seemed everything was actually blurrier than before.
I pulled the glasses off my face and held them to the light. That’s when I noticed the problem. The lenses were plastered with smudges and needed to be cleaned. After giving them a thorough wipe down, I felt that I was seeing with perfect clarity. Amazing!
Now I’m slightly addicted to cleaning the lenses. The smallest smudge brings out the spray and cloth. After realizing the small shift required in seeing better, why would I ever choose to look through dirty lenses?
I’ve learned that the same clear vision is needed in our spiritual lives. At times we see something from a new perspective or with greater clarity. From that moment forward, it’s hard to look at circumstances through old perspectives. If we’re going to grow in our walk with Christ and be His light in this world, however, we must.
This is not easy to do. Several years ago, the Be Kind campaign kicked off. I remember thinking how nice it would be if simply telling people to be kind could create the change the world yearns for. It won’t. Likewise, telling people to end hate doesn’t work. We can hashtag and post all day long, but the haters are going to hate. It’s a condition of the heart.
One day a friend and I discussed the issue of hate we see in the world. As Christians, our hearts naturally break because God’s heart breaks. God is love; He hates hate because He is love. We are His image bearers, so our hearts are torn over what we see happening in the world. As it should be.
My friend and I also discussed the Atlanta murders in the Asian massage parlors, in the news at the time. While some of the media portrayed a race hate crime, the murderer actually said he targeted the parlors because of what they represented to him: his sexual addiction. His sin caused him to murder.
In this instance, it was not a race hate crime; it was a sin hate crime. The suspect was filled with hate, to be sure. But his hate was at his own sin-natured heart, not a race of people.
Paul understood the human sin condition well:
So I discover this law: When I want to do what is good, evil is present with me. For in my inner self I delight in God’s law, but I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my flesh, the law of sin (Romans 7:21-25).
Before any of us come to Christ, we are slaves to the sin nature that lives inside us. It looks different for everyone. Not everyone will murder someone out of their sin-natured self, but we all have a sin problem. The good news is that the answer is with us if we are willing to accept it: a relationship with Jesus.
As my friend and I discussed hate, she was bothered about this issue close to her heart that she feels no one is talking about. My initial response was that our world is weighed down right now with so much, we can’t possibly talk about all of it. We feel it, as Paul expressed in Romans: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now” (8:22).
I continued pondering our conversation long after it ended. I’ve never seen more Christians crying out and posting on social media about all the evil in the world. It’s as if it is shocking to us.
I wonder if we are missing the greatest opportunity God has ever given to us during our lifetime. In my own life, I’ve never seen what we are seeing in the world and culture now. When I search the Scriptures, I don’t see a command to go and tell the world about all the evil and hate. But I do see this: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
Telling someone to stop hating will never work. Covering our cars with bumper stickers, wearing t-shirts telling people to be kind will never work. It might help for the next five minutes, but it won’t change the heart. Only Christ can do that.
Command and calling
We have a command, a calling, an enormous responsibility if we claim to be followers of Jesus. The world is literally dying before our very eyes. Humanity is being exposed for the evil that lurks within. People are hungry for truth. Why are we posting and sharing more about evil, hate, political unrest, and social justice than we are about a living God madly in love with His creation and because of His mercy, the world hasn’t ended yet? His heart is for all to come to Him.
Not all will come to God; we know this. But His heart is that everyone will. So we see His patience, kindness, and mercy. Why aren’t we shouting this from the rooftops? “My mouth will tell about your righteousness and your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up” (Psalm 71:15).
The media is out to get a reaction from us. They want us to feel angry and outraged. They want to scare us. The media loves to tell a bad story. But God tells a good story. A very good story.
Let’s tell His story to all who will listen. This is how to combat hate. This is how to fight evil: with love and truth.