Choosing Love on Good Friday

 

I’ve been immersed in hate today.

I’ve been watching updates from this week’s bombing attacks in Brussels that killed 31 people and injured 270.

I’ve listened to the sounds of children crying for their mamas in the dark aftermath.

Reading the most hateful comments about a state I love—North Carolina.

Reading reports of deadly race wars, and political battles that are so embarrassingly ugly I want to shield my children from them.

Hate.

So when I read tonight about yet another suicide bomber killing 29 people in a Baghdad football stadium, I felt hate wrap its icy fingers around my own heart.

I’m so tired of the hate. 

I’m tired of all of the deaths and so much darkness.

At that moment, a terrible suggestion came to my weary mind:  I can hate back. 

Just as the thought bubbled up from my tired soul, I heard a whisper—His whisper—speak to me:

Don’t hate. Think of me instead.

And I did. I thought of Good Friday, and the appalling suffering of Jesus on the cross. The hate that surrounded Him in those final hours was astounding. 

Jesus, abandoned by His friends, tortured, thirsty, and dying by personal choice.  Spat on.  Beaten, taunted and ridiculed, and all the while, he said nothing. No hateful response. Only love.

Jesus was love surrounded by hate. Hate tried to kill him, but love prevailed.

See, Jesus knew something that I am only beginning to understand:

The only force that can stop the kind of hate that we see today is Love. 

Choosing love doesn’t mean exchanging my belief system to appease someone else.  It simply means treating someone who is unlike me with respect and dignity.

It means listening and imagining, if only for a moment, what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes.

It means loving others in the way that Jesus did.  Jesus never wavered. He did not compromise, but in all things, His words were both kind and true.

How, then, can I hate if He—the Son of God—suffered so greatly and yet chose to love? How can I hate when I, too, am scarred and guilty? When I, a sinner, have been given such grace and a promise of everlasting life? 

How can I hate when I know that Jesus laid down His life not only for me and those like me, but for all of us?

No, I have no right to hate.  Not when I’ve been blessed to know this kind of Love.

Love is our greatest weapon against hate.   

At times, I feel too weak to lift it. When I can’t, I can look to Jesus and the cross. I can remember Good Friday and wrap myself up in the love that saved me.

In God’s power, I choose to love and refuse hate. Will you join me?

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13