In the past week, similar events happened on opposite sides of the world. Two individuals came to the conclusion that their political beliefs were so important they were worth killing for. One man succeeded in his mission—to kill a member of the British Parliament, in West Yorkshire, England. Another man was foiled in his mission—to kill a U.S. presidential nominee in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On Sunday, USA Today ran an article about the “psychology of hate” which proclaimed: “American culture is more permeated than ever by hate and hateful expressions, and hate-inspired violence is more prevalent.” On the other side of the Atlantic, a member of the UK Evangelical Alliance echoed that sentiment about England and wrote that what Britain and America need is for Christians to step up and lead the way to reconciliation and healing.
The problem is that too many Christians are embracing hate and anger instead of reconciliation and healing. Like so many others, they are caught up in the kind of “life and death” mentality that led two people this week to choose murder as a way to make a political point.
How can I say that? I see it on Facebook. I read it in news reports. I hear it in the voices of people around me who are being driven by fear that they could lose “everything” if this person wins the election, or if that party triumphs, or if a particular vote goes against what they think is right. “Everything is riding on this.” “This could change everything.” “This could be the beginning of the end.”
Fear. Anger. Hatred. Yes, even Christians are joining in.
So here is my challenge.
STOP and TAKE 5.
Matthew 5, that is.
Read the 5th chapter of Matthew for yourself, and for the next week, every time you start to post a comment on Twitter or Facebook, every time you start to jump into a debate about what’s best for our country, every time you feel anger, fear, or hatred start to squeeze the joy out of your life, remember Jesus’ words.
“Blessed are you…the meek…the merciful…the peacemakers…the persecuted.”
“You are the salt of the earth…the light of the world.”
“If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Those are all Jesus’ words, right out of Matthew 5.
Instead of hate, fear, and anger this week, post Matthew 5. Argue Matthew 5. Live Matthew 5.
That’s my challenge. Start now!
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What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.