Thursday 19 May 2022

What did you say?

“I hate it when that happens.”

Do you, though? I know it might seem like a little thing to some, just a casual expression and all. But it seems like there’s already so much hate in the world. Maybe we could pause for a moment and think about how easily, how casually and how readily we throw that word around. Maybe we could even spare a moment to wonder at what hate really is.

It’s being so vividly and graphically displayed in the world, that slipping it into casual conversation seems, at least, disingenuous. I hope. We’re becoming more and more accustomed to throwing around incredibly volatile language, employing rhetoric that encourages conflict, not relationship. It seems so pervasive.

Our language, like our world, has become incredibly complex. And misunderstood. And inappropriate. But hate, that's something that's still as simple as it's always been.

Hate isn't about personal taste, opinion, dislike or disagreement. It’s just not. The roots of hate are in fear, ignorance, power and rejection.

It was just a few weeks back that we celebrated Easter. Jesus is alive, we shout, and we say it’s a good time to look around and see how Jesus is alive in the world today. (By the way: anytime is a good time to do that.) I remember saying that Jesus is alive in each of us, in the love and caring we show for each other, how we share things, how we respect each other, how we live as Jesus taught us to live. Together.

To be honest, it can sometimes feel hard to say that convincingly when the world seems determined to show something different.

And what we say and what we do are intrinsically linked, aren't they?  One of the fairest criticisms levelled at the church - and governments and institutions and societies - is that we don't live what we say. We don't "walk the talk."

We should. There isn’t an excuse for that. We should. But we should also be as sure and sincere and authentic as we can be about our talk before we walk it out. How much of the bad that happens in the world today is inspired by words that are essentially hate born from ignorance and fear?

Jesus' answer to hate is love. Hope-filled, determined, life-giving love. The love that's at the heart of Jesus' teaching is about compassion and justice, it's about sharing in relationship, it's about being open to the new and different in order to know it and understand it, it's about bringing people together to share life, not just behave the same. Jesus' love is about respect and dignity for all. Jesus' love is God's love, and God's love is for all.

You cannot say that God loves everyone and then say “except those people.” Nor can you say God's grace is for everyone - but I don't have to forgive. Or that at the end of this life, only God judges us - but I can tell you where you're going.

Wholeness can't be achieved just by doing, it must be in what we say, too. And we should think about that first, and share it with God.