I am grieved tonight over what is going on in our country. Our nation is fractured, perhaps as never before. Religious, political, and philosophical differences are stark. Although I agree that economic and psychological stressors are taking a significant toll on many people, I contend that the fundamental problem in our country is a spiritual one.
This morning, I removed myself from two Facebook causes which I truly believe in — all due to the hate and obscenities being expressed in the public forums. The sad thing is that many of those responsible for such boorish behavior claim to be Christians.
This afternoon, news broke of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas. As one of the few American medical doctors still performing late-term abortions, Dr. Tiller was no stranger to hate. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and he was shot outside his clinic in 1993. This morning, while passing out worship bulletins at his church, he was shot to death. Make no mistake: I am very pro-life. The kinds of abortions performed by Tiller are a most violent death. And I believe that like all of us, Tiller will have to give an account for his actions. Do I have serious questions about Tiller’s own spiritual condition and the tolerance of his church? Absolutely. But his death does not avenge the thousands of deaths caused through the years at his hands.
My major issue tonight is that I fully expect the man who was arrested for Tiller’s murder to be portrayed by our nation’s mainstream media as a conservative Christian. And that would likely be, at best, a mischaracterization.
I consider myself to be very well-informed in matters related to religion and politics — particularly as they impact marriage and family life. And I am no stranger to my elected officials.
However, Scripture clearly teaches that people will know we are Christians by our love.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35, ESV)
As I have days like today, watching supposed Christians live their lives in ways that are anything but Christlike, I have to shake my head and wonder how we’re doing with that benchmark.
Even when I disagree with people, I do my best to be honest but respectful, passionate but civil, and loving not hateful. For every hateful word and vitriolic action of a person who claims to be a Christian, the pressure mounts for all Christians to even more strongly demonstrate the love of Christ.
And so tonight I grieve for the Tiller family. Any loss is difficult; sudden and violent losses are even moreso. I grieve for the pro-life community, because today’s incident has earned them collectively yet another black mark. I grieve always for women who believe abortion to be the best available option. Having counseled many women and families who have suffered incredible emotional and psychological distress due to that terrible choice, I understand more than most the depth of pain and invisible scars that never heal.
But perhaps more than anything else, tonight I grieve for those ‘Christians’ who just don’t get it. . . those who don’t understand that two wrongs will never make a right, that we must not repay evil with evil, and that our lives as believers will always be under a microscope.
I do not advocate Christians being pacifists. I believe we are to stand for what is right — but to do so through the proper channels that God has made available to us through our system of government. And when we stand for those values, we can expect to find dissent and conflict with the prevailing culture.
Jesus told us that the world will hate us, because it hated Him first. (John 15:18-16:4) That should not be surprising at all. But God is love, and in Him is no darkness. (1 John 1:5) Yes, our nation’s biggest problem is a spiritual one. And it can only be resolved when those who identify as Christians begin passionately pursuing lives characterized by personal holiness, godly obedience, and lasting love.
Every time we choose to hate people rather than love people, we do serious harm to the cause of Christ — who God sent into this world to demonstrate His own amazing love for them! May we take special care to hate sin but love sinners — and to start by hating our own sin first. Only then will we experience the kind of repentance that is a hallmark of a growing disciple.
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)