If you scroll social media for any length of time then you will see people who say they are Christians attacking other Christians. It does not have to be over religion and faith, although that is the primary source of arguments and attacks, but it can be over anything. If the fruits of the Spirit do not include anger and hatred for others, why then are so many Christians mean to others – especially to other Christians?
This has been a burden for some time on my heart since I see no reason for Christians to fight each other when we are simply making it easier for our real enemy. We are not the enemy of each other, or at least we should not be the enemy of other Christians. In order to understand the current status of Christianity in America we must go back to the beginning.
“But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You certainly will not die? No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.” (Genesis 3:4)
We often see the temptation of Adam and Eve and that they “would be like gods”. We hear priests and leaders talk about the temptation to be like god and that was why Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Sadly, we sometimes do not pay much attention to the rest of the verse: “you will know what is good and what is bad”.
Satan’s root weapon is not pride, although that is one of his primary weapons. His root weapon is the same thing that made him fall. It’s a desire to be like God and, as a result, not having to submit to someone or recognize that we could possibly be wrong about a theory or belief. It’s an inner desire to choose for ourselves. It’s a belief that we should be able to know everything. It’s a belief that we do actually know everything, which of course is a false belief, and therefore should not have other people to tell us what to do.
Ultimately, perhaps, the reason Christians are so mean to each other lies in the very same reason we love God. Free will. We use our free will wrong in so many situations. We have free will to choose to love God, but also our free will requires us to choose to love others. We, however, use that free will to choose not to love others but, rather, to judge them. We use our free will to love God and condemn humans. We use our free will to choose to be a Christian while simultaneously hating others and refusing to forgive others.
It all comes down to unconditional love versus conditional love. We love God, but sometimes even our love for God is conditional. We love God while things are going well but the minute the boat begins to rock in the storm we begin to not love God quite so much. It’s that same free will that causes us to freely love others as long as they love us back – resulting in conditional love – which actually isn’t really love at all.
By believing we are right, we know what is good and bad, and that we do not need others to tell us we are wrong, we cause ourselves to be used by Satan to attack others, abuse our power over others and be mean to people. It causes us to attack them, but at the same time promising it is not an “attack”. In the end, it leads us to choose through our free will to not obey God and his commandments because, after all, we know what is good and bad.
“Happy are those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked, nor go the way of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers, rather, the law of the Lord is their joy. God’s law they study day and night. They are like a tree planted near streams of water that yields its fruit in season; its leaves never wither, whatever they do prospers. But not the wicked. They are like chaff driven by the wind therefore the wicked will not survive judgment.” (Psalm 1:1-5)
We have fooled ourselves if we believe that we can know what is good and what is evil apart from the leading of God and His Spirit. We have deceived ourselves if we believe that we can judge another and call a person good or evil. We can call actions good or evil, but the same person we want to condemn or abuse is the same person Christ sees worth and value in and died on the cross for their sins as well as yours. We are wrong if we believe it is okay to attack others because their beliefs are different, their lifestyle is different, or their sins are different than ours. We are wrong to believe that we have the power to know what is good and what is bad by any other means than the Holy Spirit, prayer, the sacraments, and the Word of God.
Satan lied to Adam and Eve in the Garden and it worked. He tells the same lies to you and I today. It works. Let’s make a commitment to not say one single negative thing about another individual, no matter who they are, but rather pray for them when we feel negativity coming from our lips.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
If you want to make a difference, then go and love others. If you want to see a difference in the world, then teach others to love. If you want to see others come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, then bring the love of Jesus - the unconditional love of Jesus – to the world through your actions and words.