As I scanned my news reader yesterday, two headlines caught my eye. Both spoke of hatred and treachery.
The first was the news that two troops in Afghanistan had been killed… by insiders. Killed by the ones that the soldiers came to help.
The second was a headline that twelve people had been injured in a drive-by shooting. 46 rounds of ammo sprayed into a crowd. An act “worthy” of any terrorist organization… except this one occurred in Washington D.C., America’s capitol.
That D.C. crowd was attacked by insiders too; fellow citizens.
It’s a wake-up call. The level of darkness that allows someone to betray… and to kill… isn’t reserved for people in other time zones with foreign-sounding names. It’s all around us.
The question is, why don’t we do something about it? And how do we handle the haters?
Day and Night
“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.” (1 Th 5:5–6 NLT)
There couldn’t be a more drastic contrast: night and day. As Jesus followers, we are children “of the light and of the day.” As children of the light, we live in illumination… understanding… (as much as humans can understand) that there is another, better way to live. It’s the way that Christ showed us.
As children of the day, we are called to be awake and clearheaded. We are called to take note and to take action. So why don’t I do something about all the hatred in the world?
As I search my motives, I see three possibilities:
1. Don’t Know
In an age of 24/7 news coverage it’s hard to NOT know that darkness and hatred exist. Turn on the news, or attend a local little league sports game and you’ll find it. (Not among the kids perhaps… more likely among the parents!)
It’s not that I don’t know… it’s everywhere. The next possibility is…
2. Don’t Care
Until it happens to “me,” it has little impact on my daily life. At least that’s the way the world seems to work.
But that’s not the way Jesus works, and it’s not the way he asks his followers to work.
He tells us to love our neighbors. He tells a great story of who our neighbors are in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It has less to do with where they live and more to do with where Jesus lives: in the hearts of his children of the light and day.
As Jesus followers, we can’t NOT care. But…
3. Why Bother?
I see two streams of logic here:
- Jesus has already won the war, so why get mixed up in the daily darkness skirmishes?
- There’s too much… what can “I” do about it?
Jesus may have won the war, but the battles rage on. Until Jesus returns, there will still be those who are wounded in action and prisoners of war. To those caught in the middle of darkness, it doesn’t look like the war has been won.
And we may be the only introduction to the light they’ll get.
As for what can “I” do about it, that’s the beauty of the body of Christ. It’s never about me… it’s about us!
Collectively, we can make a difference. What if:
- Instead of drive by shootings we conducted drive by kindness; showering light and love on people who aren’t expecting it?
- Instead of suicide bombers, we had our own brand of “suicide” (death to self) and we “bombed” others with love, prayer, and kindness?
- Or better yet… what if we became the “insiders” by committing to be a constant in people’s lives who don’t have regular access to the light of Christ just yet?
I’m not naive enough to assume that this will stop all hatred and darkness. But I’m also not naive enough to assume that because Jesus has “already won,” no more bad things will happen.
As Jesus followers, we are called to be children of the light… awake… clear-headed. It’s the best way to be in the midst of a combat zone!
I’ll leave you with the words of Mother Theresa, who… next to Jesus… has some of the best advice on how to handle the haters:
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
How do you handle the haters?