I, like you I’m sure, am disturbed by the news this week. The news and videos from Charlottesville are unbelievably disturbing. And I know that those videos only show the surface of what seems to be an ever-growing divide in our country and world, and lobbing hatred back and forth on Facebook doesn’t seem to be helping. I’m not just joining the chorus of “can’t we all just get along?” Yes, it would be great if we all “just got along,” but that doesn’t seem to be working. I think the problem with “can’t we just all get along” is that it doesn’t really address the underlying problem.
In the Biblical worldview the underlying problem is sin. When sin is introduced between nations you get war. When sin is introduced between races you get all forms of racism. When sin is introduced between male and females you get rape, sexism, divorce, and abuse. When sin is introduced between brothers you get hatred and murder. When sin is introduced between God and mankind you get eternal separation.
We see our world fall apart in Genesis chapters three through eleven. In chapter three we see the relationship between Adam and Eve fall apart, along with their relationship with God. In chapter four Cain murders his brother Abel. Literally the first children on the planet murder each other! By chapter six the world is so violent that God “grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (I believe verse six of chapter six is maybe the saddest verse in the Bible.) God is so “grieved” that he wipes out mankind, except for eight people, with a worldwide flood. After rebuilding the population on the earth we see nations fall apart in chapter eleven. It’s a sad history.
So I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised when the news contains bombings and riots. It’s been there all along. But let’s get to the heart of the issue. John puts it very plainly in his first epistle.
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:11-16 ESV)
If you have hatred in your heart-hatred because of someone’s race, country of origin, political party, gender, age, mental handicap, or whatever-your “own deeds are evil!” Jesus says that if we hate our brother we are a murderer!
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:21-26 ESV)
Jesus says that we should be reconciled to our brother and that we should come to terms quickly. John continues his advice in 1 John 4:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (verses 7-21 ESV)
It starts with a relationship with God. When that relationship is restored (remember it was broken way back in Genesis chapter three) we learn what true love is, and when we learn what true love is we can (and must) love our brother.