|Pile of stones (Photo credit: Michel.h)|
Love your enemies (Matt 5:44)
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. (1 Co. 13:6)
(I must apologize. For reasons I can't understand or explain, I haven't yet been able to write the resolution to the farce I introduced back in October. I felt like I was ready to write it at the time I posted part 1, but for some reason, it just won't come out. I trust that God will bring it in its time. And now, on to today's post.)
You, good Christian, are certainly not someone who rejoices at wrongdoing, right? Same here.
Why, we hate wrongdoing! We prove it every chance we get! We are so diligent about jumping on every sin we hear about in public figures, and personally lambasting the offenders on Facebook or wherever else we can do so. Nobody could ever deny how much we hate wrongdoing!
Nobody clucks their tongues louder than we do. Nobody's voice can get more shrill. Nobody's quicker on the draw with the social media megaphone...and why should we wait for verification of the facts we're spreading? Why would we hope that the badness might be less bad than we thought, when it feels so good to hate those people?
Why, it's a pure, delicious pleasure to be horrified, offended, and hit that "Share" button with righteous indignation.
Yep. It shows. The pleasure, that is. It shows.
It's called, "Rejoicing in wrongdoing." We mustn't kid ourselves. That's exactly what it is.
And love does not do that.
When we do that, we are not loving our enemies. We are loving their sin, because we love feeling superior.
We love licking our chops and diving in for the kill.
We love being offended at those who we feel are wrongfully offended by us, or by the things we hold dear.
We love hating the haters, mocking the mockers, attacking the attackers.
It feels so good.
And it's eating away at our souls.
C. S. Lewis addresses this better than anybody.
"Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one's first feeling, 'Thank God, even they aren't quite so bad as that,' or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish [free rein], later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything - God and our friends and ourselves included - as bad, and not be able to stop doing it; we shall be fixed forever in a universe of pure hatred." (From "Mere Christianity.")
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing.
When was the last time we followed Christ?
Yes, there's a time to speak against what is wrong! But no, there's never a time to rejoice and prepare to feast on our neighbor's downfall. Not in this Age of Grace; grace without which we, too, would be damned.
How, with rocks in our hands, will we ever help our enemy believe we follow a merciful, forgiving Savior? Is that even what we want him to believe? (It had BETTER be! But search your heart, really, and I'll search mine. Because I fear that it's not always our desire.)
As long as we clutch our rocks and rejoice in the throwing, we're utterly, damnably blind to our own corruption.
And we will only be forgiven as we forgive. (Matt 18:32-35)
We will only receive mercy as we give it. (Matt 5:7)
We will only receive grace as we are humble. (James 4:6)
Ever wonder why nobody out there believes we're children of the One True God?
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." (Matt 5:9)
May God forgive us for rejoicing in wrongdoing, and failing to love our enemies.
May God forgive me. Because I know I've been there. I've done that. But this week an organization which I care about, and for which I meet with others to pray regularly, has been the victim of a viral whirlwind of misinformation and false accusation. A Christian brother has had his good name smeared all the way up to the level of national news. The organization has issued a clarifying statement, but somehow it's not forwarded nearly as often as the delightful, beloved, rejoiced-in offense.
These are people for whom I pray. And praying for them has made me care. Has made me love them. Has made me grieve at the delighted stone-throwing that I'm seeing.
Praying produces love. Make yourself pray for others until you love them...and then you'll pray for them because you want to.
Pray for your enemies. And join Christ in mourning over the sin that threatens to destroy them, instead of joining the enemy in hurrying their destruction.
And pray for me, that I will do the same.
We don't have a clue how much depends on it, and not just for them, but for us, and for the honor of Christ's Name.