Hate, Home Grown
By Wendy Wippel
I am assuming that pretty much all of you reading this spent last evening doing the exact same thing I did. That being, watching the news, weeping for the scores of dead country music fans, and wondering what the heck would have motivated this multimillionaire—apparently an American success story—to do what he did. We may never know. But Scripture can shed some light on it.
Jesus himself told us that at some future point (in the context of the tribulation) that, “you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many”. (Matt 24:9-11)
Here’s the clincher: it goes on…“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
People do get offended. Then they hate each other. And then it gets ugly.
We have plenty of examples of people – mostly political figures—being assassinated because some random, unknown offended individual out there that believed that their opinions and/or convictions were an offense to what said offended person considered proper morality.
Abe Lincoln being a good example. (There’s a reason we have the Secret Service).
And this wacko, who went by the name Stephen Paddock, may be in that category.
Maybe Trump ticked him off simply by being alive and in the White House. Maybe he hates country music. Maybe he’s just rotten to the core. Hopefully his motives will be soon revealed.
But there’s a more basic issue here. And a more basic hatred.
Let’s start with defining lawlessness.
Most of us have had a speeding ticket or two. Is that lawlessness? Not necessarily. In my case(s), I wasn’t paying attention, and I later paid my fine(s).
I didn’t rail against speed limits in general. I recognize a need for the law. But we who are under the law all fall short of perfect obedience to the law. All of us.
And that– in my case and yours, –is my civilized, born again persona.
Not my earthly, unredeemed persona. Who still rears its ugly head in my life, occasionally, today.
Anyone who’s ever had a two-year old knows what the uncivilized, unredeemed persona can look like. The average two-year old is a model of lawlessness—a refusal to be governed by any law.
(Jerry Seinfeld, after having children, observed that having a two-year old was like having a blender, without a lid).
Which is a pretty good picture of being completely ungoverned, right?
And a great lead in to the main point.
What, according to our Lord, is the first (and most important) commandment?
“Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving[d] that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’[e] This is the first commandment.[f] 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
Our first duty, as God’s foremost creation, is to love the law-giver. Which, according to Isaiah 33:22, “The Lord is our lawgiver”, is Jehovah God.
There’s the rub. WE all have a fleshly nature that resists submitting our will to anybody but ourselves.
And any real love– love that transcends our earthly natures– comes straight from the God who we are told is love.
Lawlessness, is—in- and of its self– a form of self-absorption. When someone is going twice the speed limit on the freeway he is obviously completely free of concern for other motorists. “Love does not seek its own”. But those who do not love? Unfortunately, a completely different story.
Here’s what the Scriptures say about that bunch: “We know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers” (I Timothy 1:8-10)
But (before we get a big head) here’s what the Scriptures say about you and I. We were redeemed by Jesus (Titus 2:14) “who gave himself for us so that he may redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for himself his own special people, zealous for good works”.
We only escape from lawlessness by the blood of Christ. No kudos deserved.
Here’s the deal. Love comes from God. And God alone. From I John 4:7:
“Beloved let us love one another. For love is from God, and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. But the one that does not love does not know God for God is love. Beloved Let us love one another.”
The word used for “love”: here is the Greek word “agape” which means a completely selfless, only comes from knowng God’s love yourself, kind of love.
And that first line? Beloved let us love one another? In the Greek its essentially translated as: “Those who have known God’s love, love”.
That’s a verb. Meaning it’s a command.
Later, in Verse 16, John adds this: the one who abides in love, abides in God. And God abides in him. And we know the love that God has for us. God is love.
I don’t know Paddock’s story. I don’t know if he was unloved or abused as a child, I don’t know what made him take things out on thousands of strangers that never met or even heard of him.
I don’t know.
But I do know as a child of God, we have a direct pipeline to the seat of grace and a fountain of love.
And maybe nobody ever told him about the love that God had for him.
Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13:8) God said that.
And if we aren’t showing God’s love to the world everything we are doing is basically worthless. God said that too in Corinthians 13 as well.
God is love. Let’s make that known.