By: Dennis Bates
It never ceases to amaze me how cruel, vile and just plain hateful people can be sometimes. And many of these people call themselves Christians. I suggest respectfully that these people take a good, long look inside themselves to see what is really driving them. It isn’t Christ.
God is love, and if we don’t see that love in everything we do, it simply isn’t from God. That only leaves one other option.
Ted Kennedy died late last night. Officially, many gracious and respectful comments have already been issued by those who must do those things. Most all praise the Senator for his service to this country…officially. However, if you read unofficial comments from the Internet and elsewhere, you will see the kind of cruel, hateful statements I mentioned above.
I will not dignify any of them by repeating any of them here.
I am not here to eulogize Senator Kennedy. Others will handle that. I also do not intend to tell you that you should have voted for him, liked him or even respected him. He certainly made his share of mistakes, which were magnified by the constant surveillance of a media focused on his last name as much as anything.
However, as James said in chapter 3, verse 2, “We all stumble in many ways.” Certainly Ted Kennedy validated that verse. And while we may not have voted for him, agreed with him or even liked him, we as Christians have a duty to love him, just as we have a similar duty to love all people.
Later in chapter 3, James wrote this: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praising and cursing. My brothers, that should not be.”
Senator Kennedy was, in fact, made in God’s likeness. He may not always have reflected that likeness in the best possible way. Who has? All I know is that the writer of 1 John wrote in chapter 4 that anyone who says he loves God while hating his brother is “a liar.”
To some degree those who disregard those verses reflect what is wrong in our world, our nation and our churches today. To put it bluntly, we are mean spirited and hateful toward those with whom we disagree. We vilify where we could disagree. Everything is personalized, and it doesn’t matter whether we are conservative or liberal. A person is not evil just because we happen to disagree with them. They merely have a different opinion.
There is evil in this world, but it doesn’t come from God or His people. Evil comes from denying God and His love for all of us. Self righteous, sanctimonious evil is still evil. Similarly, affirmation of God and His love for us results in good. Imperfect, even mistaken good is still good. We as Christians would do well to remember that.