A gunman opens fire on hundreds. A driver crushes dozens with a truck. Fires rage threatening life and ways of life. Rains beat down leaving thousands homeless, stranded in knee-deep filthy water. The air fills with smoke. The water oozes from every crevice. The blood pools at our fingertips.
And in the aftermath of a tragedy we pledge our solidarity to the survivors. We send money. We send clean water. We stand in line to give our own blood. We pray for the families and the victims. We mourn with those who mourn. Our profiles are flooded with hashtags of hope. We attend the prayer vigil and hold hands with our neighbor. We hate all the hate; rage against the rage. We say something about love being louder.
Then a few days go by, and we open up our bottles of wine to enjoy a little more than we should. We turn on the TV and laugh at the depravity. Casual humor; harmless fun. We roll our eyes at our kids in their moments of anger. Sibling rivalry, we call it. We smugly snark at the people who don’t get us, shame the neighbor who voted differently. We march to reform the guns, then sit down to watch it on our screens. We whine about objectification while entertaining ourselves with slander. As long as we don’t touch the gun. As long as we don’t say the words. As long as we keep the spotlight on all the good, we can hide the hypocrisy in the shadows.
But the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The world is not a place of hope. It is not filled with beautiful people doing wonderful things. It is filled with sinners doing sinful things. While there will always be those heroes in the midst of tragedy, there real tragedy is the one committed every day. The one inside the tidy four walls of the human heart. For I am no better than the murderer.
The real change does not come from loving louder. It does not come from our humanistic attempts to throw out hate. It comes from loving Him who first loved us. A love that is strong enough to change hearts–ones not conformed to this world, but renewed by His restoration in our everyday lives.
In the middle of floods and fires and fighting, I pray that we hold close those who are hurting. May we weep with the broken hearted and welcome in those who are displaced. May we do good things with the hands God gave us. May we call evil what it is and speak truth. May we walk in The Way, narrow though it may be.
May we have the humility and wisdom look at our own lives and face the hypocrisy, not being deceived by the norms of culture. May we look different, choosing to welcome the truth and freeing up more space to love for real.
In the aftermath, let us be better than hate. Let us be better than politics and agendas. Let us be better than saying all the right things and taking all the right pictures. Let us be better than our pathetic attempts at some version of empty love.
I will give them a heart to know that I am God, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. Jer. 24:7
Let us be transformed. Let us be different. Let us give Him our hearts and let us be His people.