It is, without a doubt, a horrific event in Arizona that almost took the life of a congresswoman, killed a nine year-old girl and four others, and wounded a number of other people. The aftermath, to me, is also tragic.
Some have declared that this is evidence that political rhetoric must be dialed down. Sarah Palin’s desire to “target” certain areas for political upheaval is being thrown about by the media inferring a relationship to the event, and yet there is no causal connection. Other’s have defended their right to free speech as they refer to some as “un-American” and “Destroyers of freedom”. They have shown little sympathy and claim that they are not to blame for the actions of a deranged man who has no connection to their political cause.
And one Christian author, Diane Butler Bass, wrote this in a recent blog:
Right now, we need some sustained spiritual reflection on how badly we have behaved in recent years as Americans–how much we’ve allowed fear to motivate our politics, how cruel we’ve allowed our discourse to become, how little we’ve listened, how much we’ve dehumanized public servants, how much we hate.
I can’t say I disagree with her call to examine where we are in our public discourse. The problem is, I do not find hate to be so prevalent among the general citizenry as she declares. There are many who long to see a more civilized discourse in our politics. Many who are generous and loving – who dislike the extremes that garner the attention of the media. It is not that hate is so prevalent in our society in general, but that hate garners our attention more than anything else.
What we need is not a reflection upon “how much we hate”, but a serious commitment to our call to love. What we need is to stop attaching the political divisiveness of the extremes to the tragic events of the day just because we can find some connection to the rhetoric.That is true in the pulpit as much as in the pew.
When preachers use the anger and/or deranged actions of one man to preach against the pervasiveness of hate in the world, they lose some theological integrity. One must not springboard off such an event into a subject as important and serious as hate. To do so is to add to the rhetoric. It is to make a connection between the event and our political differences when one has not been proven to exist. Preachers become no different from the political extremists using the event for their own advantage.
I say we should instead preach to the fallenness of creation – the brokenness of the world that stretches back to the story of Adam and Eve. The willingness to take a human life is a symptom of the disease, not the disease itself. Hatred is a symptom of our self-absorbed, self-centered desire for control, which is the heart of our sinful nature. Only the One who can heal the disease of sin can help heal the wounds of hate and reduce future flair-ups. It is only in Jesus Christ that we can be made whole, only by the power of God’s Holy Spirit that we can live in love – even when others hate.
Tragic events that stem from one person’s hate or wrong-thinking, tragic events that end up being used by others to slander and discredit those who are certainly unrelated to the incident – those events, those moments should be a reminder of our need to live in Christ. They are reminders of how much the world needs the light of Christ to shine. They are a call to bring Christ to a world in desperate need.
Make a difference today – go shine his light, go share his love, let’s change our world.
Holy high-five to you,