This one man’s religious fervor drove him to hate an entire community. My religion? Here is what I read when I open my bible.
• “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)
• “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51: 17)
• “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. (Psalm 103:8)
• “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3)
• “Hatred stirs up trouble, but love forgives all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12)
• “Those who make evil plans will be ruined, but those who plan to do good will be loved and trusted.” (Proverbs 14:22)
• “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21)
• “For love is as strong as death, It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” (Song of Songs 8:6)
• “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentations 3:22)
• “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” (Hosea 12:16)
• “This is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
• “But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Matthew 5:44)
• “If you love only the people who love you, what praise should you get? … But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back.” (Luke 6:32-35)
• “I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
• “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
• “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
• “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” (Romans 12:14-16)
• “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13: 10)
• “Be alert. Continue strong in the faith. Have courage, and be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)
• “Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
• “This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and will choose the good.” (Philippians 1:9-10)
• “Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace.” (Colossians 3:13-15)
• “Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. … Remember those who are suffering as if you were suffering with them.” (Hebrews 13:1-3)
• “Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God. … if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is made perfect in us. … God is love. Those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. This is how love is made perfect in us: that we can be without fear on the day God judges us, because in this world we are like him. Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 7-18)
Page after page, I read of a God who loves me and calls me to love others. I read of a God who cares for the brokenhearted and urges us to follow His example. Jesus said that the two greatest commands were to love God with every ounce of our being and to love our neighbors the same way we love ourselves. So I will choose to love.
My heart is broken for the city of Orlando as their communities have been disrupted by acts of hatred and terror. My heart mourns with my LGBT friends as they have been confronted again with violence and contempt.
image courtesy of The Daily Beast
Hate is easy. It does not require any effort or mental deliberation. But love is louder. Love is bigger. Love is stronger. Love is braver. Love is wilder. Love is more powerful. Love is crazy beautiful.
Hatred inflicts pain but love heals wounds. So I dare you to love. Love the messy and the broken. Love the lost. Love the complicated. Love the strange. Love those who are difficult to like. Love your friends and love your enemies. Love when it is scary. Love when everything inside of you wants to run away screaming. Love when it would be easier to show spite.
In the wake of these tragedies, let us love. Let us be bold. Let us be audacious. Let it be loud and obnoxious. Let our love drown out the noise of those who choose to steal, kill, and destroy.