Christchurch, New Zealand became the latest entry in the list of mass shootings perpetrated by those with hatred in their hearts. The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has declared that it is her intention to never utter the name of the shooter. She does not want to dignify his hatred. She would rather us remember the names of the innocent.
We live in a time where hatred of those different than ourselves seems to all too familiar. And what disturbs me most, as a pastor, is how often the name of God is invoked to justify their hatred. But I’m reminded of what is written in 1 John:
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make the stumble…This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 2:9-10, 3:16)
So, what do we do in response to these tragedies that happen all too often? The standard response that is encountered is “thoughts and prayers.” And I’m a big believer in prayer, but I think we’re called to more. The Benedictine monks have as their motto, Ora et Labora (pray and work). We’re called to pray, and as the church, the body of Christ on earth, we are to match our actions to our words. We should work to make our prayers become reality. As the author of 1 John puts it; “…let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.”
Hatred might be strong, but love is stronger.
Rev. Andrew Hook