Less than a week ago, a lone gunman opened fire at a group of Republican Congressmen and others attending a baseball practice in Virginia. A day or two later, I noticed a friend of mine posting on Facebook her outrage at all the posts she was seeing on Twitter celebrating and justifying the shooting. I didn’t see those kinds of remarks, but I don’t spend a lot of time on social media. Yesterday, though, I received an email from a family member—a good Christian woman—sharing some words of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson, including these:
I don’t know if the email was intended to rationalize the Virginia shooting and the anger behind it or if it was just bad timing. Either way, the connection between Jefferson’s words and the shooter’s actions is hard to miss.
Personally, I found the shooting in Virginia to be appalling and totally without justification. I can’t say, though, that I was shocked by it. Anger, division, and finger-pointing have taken over the political discourse in this country. Lines have been drawn, and people are categorized by one or two identifiers such as Republican, liberal, evangelical, Trump-supporter, or Trump-hater, and each group is all good or all bad, depending on which side of the line you stand on.
Christians, in particular, are being painted with a broad brush. The week before last, a nominee for a political post was accused of being Islamophobic just because he believes salvation is through Christ alone. And a few days later, a British political leader announced his resignation from office because he was taking too much heat for being an Evangelical Christian. The idea that Christians are hateful toward Muslims, homosexuals, and anyone else who doesn’t support their social and political views, is causing some Christians to keep their beliefs to themselves. Other Christians are standing up and saying, “That’s not us!” *
It grieves my heart more than I can say to know that some of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are adding to the hateful rhetoric that fuels acts of violence like we saw last week. It grieves me even more to think that other Christians are afraid to speak at all for fear of being seen as a hater.
Jesus never promised that practicing our faith would be easy or that all the world would love us and accept our message. He told us, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
As for me, I would rather be hated for a message of love and redemption than a message of hate.
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What is my mission as an author? It's a tough question, but I believe the goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they really believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.