30 reasons why I left Rome

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANever been there. Rome, that is. Someday I hope to visit the Eternal City, the site of so very much of historical import. But, I’ve never even been off the continent. North America, that is.

What the title of this series of posts on which I am embarking refers to is the Church of Rome. I was raised by wonderful, devout Roman Catholic parents, baptized as an infant, and attended Catholic elementary and high schools. I married in the Catholic Church, and even went through the church’s annulment process in order to wed my previously married and divorced husband. We had three children before our fifth wedding anniversary and all of them were baptized into the Church.

But soon after the birth of my third child, I experienced a definite stirring in my soul . . . a yearning for something that I felt difficult to understand or express. Looking back on it now, I believe it was the activity of God in my life, drawing me to seek the truth, and find him.

Back then I would have told you that I was a believer in God and, more specifically, a Christian. And even more specifically than that, and with a touch of arrogance, a Catholic. I distinctly remember my attitude when my neighbor asked if I was a Christian. I simply said, I’m Catholic, but my unspoken response was, not only am I a Christian, but I belong to the Christian elite. Yet I had come to see her, hoping to find what I didn’t have and couldn’t even be sure I was seeking, as she had demonstrated a vibrant, personal, substantive faith that was unique, at least in my contacts and history at that time.

So this neighbor and new friend immediately opened the Bible and showed me passages that taught how we are saved by faith alone. This was strange teaching to one who had been told that God judges our suitability for Heaven based on how well we obeyed his commands. But there it was, in red and white, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24

We began meeting together regularly and just looking at what the Bible says. And very quickly I realized that this was what I had been searching for . . . a real, personal knowledge of the one, true God. I gave my life to him and, because much of what I was learning from God’s Word was different from what I had been taught by the Church, eventually renounced my adherence to the Catholic faith.

That was over 25 years ago, and I am now more familiar with the Catholic Church and its doctrine than I ever was as a member. Over the next 30 days I intend to highlight and explain 30 reasons why I reject Catholicism. Not because I want to pile on the criticism, but because I believe God has called me to proclaim truth, and that necessarily involves exposing error. And, unfortunately, there’s quite a bit of it in the Roman Catholic Church.

I do want to acknowledge and affirm though, that they have always taught and upheld the authority and inspiration of the Bible, the deity and humanity of Christ, the mystery of the Trinity, the reality of sin and our need for salvation, and many other core biblical Christian doctrines. I am indebted to my parents and Catholic upbringing for instilling in me an awe of God and an understanding of his total sovereignty. For teaching me that I am not a product of chance and random mutation, but rather a marvelous, intentional creation of a loving God.

What’s more, Catholics are often generous, selfless, God-fearing people; I count a number of family members and friends in this group. And the Catholic Church has been and is doing some exceptionally God-honoring service to the poor and underprivileged, the homeless and the sick.

But . . . I believe she has also dishonored God in many of her practices and doctrines, and actually done much damage to the cause of Christ. For these reasons, I embark on this series, and hope and pray that I will be fair and kind. And that God guides me in presenting what I believe to be true.

I don’t claim that I “have already obtained [all truth] or am already perfect” (Philippians 3:12), but if I wait until I have or am, I will never be a light for the truth that I do have. I pray often for God to humble me so that he can use me more. If anything I say comes off as arrogant, please consider its truth value before criticizing me. I am mindful of a propensity to arrogance, which helps me to guard against it, and if a criticism is warranted, I will receive it. But any character flaw in me does not affect the truth or falsehood of what I present. I pray you will focus on that.

Living without fear

It’s a jungle out there. Life is positively Amazonian . . . a winding, never-ending thicket of dangerous possibilities. Terrorist attacks, neighborhood crime, vehicular accidents, deadly germs, medical mistakes. It’s enough to keep us bunkered in our homes, paralyzed with fear.

But we can’t stay home, because we’re not safe there neither. Black mold, slipperybacteria bathtubs, toxic radon, E-coli, bedbugs. What’s a bulls-eyed body to do?

I know what we can’t do. We can’t fully protect ourselves from unseen and unforeseen dangers. Oh, there are some defensive measures we can take, and do, to varying degrees. But where do we draw the line between reasonable and obsessive?

Here’s the way I face the potential dangers of every new day: I know that God is sovereign and has the power over life and death and every living and non-living thing. I also know that he is my loving Father and so is as willing as he is able to protect me. With that in mind, I get out of bed, I eat my breakfast, I get in my car, I go about my day doing what I know to do and not worrying about what I don’t know.

So, because it’s been well-established that a diet heavy on sweets and low in nutrients will leave my body low in resistance and, well, heavy . . . I start my day with a high-fiber cereal and resist the urge to stop for a donut on my way to work. Usually. But if I want to go out for dinner, I don’t let the possibility that the chef didn’t wash his hands properly keep me from enjoying my meal. Germs are something I can’t control even when it comes to my own body. I practice good personal hygiene, but because I can’t see the pesky little buggers, I never know when I might come in contact with one anyway.

But my heavenly Father knows and he is able to vaporize the microscopic menace before or after it reaches my gut or render it harmless or cause my car to break down on my way to the restaurant, leaving me irritated and disappointed but untouched by the E-coli outbreak at that soon-to-be-closing establishment.

As a mother, my faith in God’s power and love is what frees me to let my children leave my sight without abiding fear and worry. So, because I have ensured that my seventeen-year-old son knows the rules of the road and I trust his judgment because I know my son, I don’t fret and wring my hands and wait by the window until he returns from wherever he’s driven off to. I can’t control the errant driver but God can.

This isn’t about living recklessly, darting through traffic into the path of a tornado while chowing down raw bacon, expecting God to keep me healthy and safe despite my recklessness. It’s about living responsibly, using the brain God gave me, being accountable for the knowledge that I’ve used my brain to acquire, and trusting God for the unknown.

The key is not to put God to the test. I think putting God to the test means, in a sense, daring him to come through for you on your terms, not his. Or expecting him to do what he has not promised he will do. This attitude assumes a close relationship with him but generally stems from a lack of knowledge, intimacy, and trust. So, the Christian Scientists who refuse proven medical treatment for themselves or their children, determining to rely on prayer and faith, are refusing the remedy that God has provided, because medical treatment and technology that really work are good gifts and all good gifts come from God. Instead, they are demanding that he give them preferred treatment by a miraculous healing. They are taking advantage of God’s love and compassion and are essentially trying to force his hand. And God will not be forced.

And if I were to set my child down to play in the middle of the street, fully aware of the very real threat that poses to his life, but expecting God to protect him . . . well, God may. But he wouldn’t be pleased with my attempt to manipulate him, because that’s really what I’d be doing.

The bottom line is, life is full of dangers but our loving Father is watching over us and “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” 1 Fearing him means we needn’t fear anything else.

1 Psalm 147:11

There will be justice

Whirlwind-far-awayAs we hear of innocent children being beheaded, their mothers raped, their fathers slaughtered mercilessly, we may question the whereabouts of this almighty, loving God Christians talk about. Is his arm too short to save?1 Perhaps he is sleeping or otherwise indisposed, as Elijah taunted the prophets of Baal.2 At best he seems distant and disinterested.

But he is not. He sees, he knows, he grieves, and he could destroy in an instant all the murderous purveyors of evil wherever they be. But he withholds his hand of judgment…for now…because he must.

What kind of God would let the innocent be terrorized so, when he is able to rescue them? The kind of God whose sphere of knowledge, foresight, and influence includes all of creation, time, and eternity. Who created a people to share in a blissful, pain-free everlasting existence in a love relationship with himself, entered into freely because that’s the only way true love can be given. Who must allow evil to guarantee that love is freely given. And who is able to recompense the unjustly treated with eternal blessings of a magnitude far and above the pain and suffering they undeservedly endured.

But the unjust…the wicked…will suffer an everlasting torment commensurate with their evil. Is there any doubt they deserve nothing less? “Oh, that you would slay the wicked, O God!” David cries in Psalm 139. Oh, that he would strike down the ISIS terrorists before they strike down any more innocent ones, as he did in the days of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. “And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”3

Yet, God says, “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die?”4 And, “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”5 So he stands ready to forgive any who would repent, but for those who won’t – and he knows who they are – he stands ready to judge.

God can deliver the wicked into the hands of the righteous who are pursuing them, and I believe he does. I am praying for that. But we will continue to see evil thrive and the innocent suffer and die, until all whom God knows will come to him…do. Then will come the day of God’s wrath, and the wicked will cry out for the rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from his righteous right hand.6

Until then, what are we doing to combat evil? If we hope to have any success in battle, we must first know our enemy. Are we acknowledging objective right and wrong, or underestimating evil’s power by attributing it to a rejection of cultural and societal norms? Our weapons are weak if all we can say to the terrorist is, I don’t like what you’re doing. Or, we as a society have decided that what you’re doing is wrong.

Are we seeking after truth and exposing false ideologies that breed hatred and a thirst for power? Are we seeking after God, who IS truth, and aligning our lives with him so that by his power we can be weapons for righteousness in his hands? Our greatest hope for combating evil is recognizing the evil in our own hearts and surrendering to the One who promises to cleanse us from it if we turn to him. And then, with our own evil hearts conquered, becoming God’s foot-soldiers as we join him in overcoming the evil in others by sharing the life-giving, heart-changing good news of cleansing, restoration, and salvation in Jesus Christ.

There will be justice. All who refuse to submit to God as Redeemer will have him as their Judge. I am as certain of it as I am that every Muslim martyr for Allah anticipating an orgiastic paradise with 72 virgins is getting the rudest awakening ever.

1 Isaiah 59:1
2 1 Kings 18:27
3 2 Kings 19:35
4 Ezekiel 33:11
5 Isaiah 55:7-9
6 Revelation 6:15-17

Truth is an elephant

A stand for truth is becoming increasingly rare in today’s relativistic society, where your truth doesn’t have to be my truth and everything can be true, which of course means nothing is. A seeking after truth is also more frequently being seen as an outdated and rejected discipline. And a refusal to acknowledge truth when it’s staring you in the face, willfully closing one’s eyes lest they see, has to be one of our generation’s greatest sins.

There’s a well-known parable about six blind men and an elephant. The parable is designed to demonstrate that truth is relative and no one religion has the truth, and it goes like this: Six blind men are standing next to an elephant and touching different parts of the elephant’s body. The one touching its tusk thinks, “This is a spear.” The one holding its trunk thinks it’s a snake. Another grabs an ear and believes he’s got a fan. A fourth blind man wraps his arms around a leg and thinks it’s a tree; another leans on the animal’s side and “sees” a wall; and the guy on the end grabs the tail and figures he’s holding a rope.

So, the moral of the story is that multiple religions or worldviews can all have the truth; they just each see it from a different perspective. But here’s the problem with that conclusion: the truth is that each of the blind men was touching an elephant and they all got it wrong. None of them had the truth.

I’d like to carry that parable a little further, because I see in each of the sincere but sincerely wrong beliefs a reason why people choose to be blind to the truth.

The spear represents power. People and religions who get ahold of it do not want to let it go. It’s intoxicating, and they like it.

The snake is pride. “You will be like God,” the serpent said to Adam and Eve in the garden. We want to believe that we are the masters of a universe which our superior intelligence will someday have all figured out, and our inherent goodness will make a utopian world for all mankind.

I see the fan as representative of sensuality. It feels good and…you know the mantra…if it feels good, do it. And if it doesn’t feel good, I don’t want to know about it.

The tree hugger . . . that’s idolatry, worshipping the creation rather than the Creator – anything that doesn’t hold us accountable or make any demands of us.

The guy who thinks he’s leaning on a wall is lazy and apathetic. He’s happy just believing what feels comfortable.

I see the rope as reins and the most common reason we refuse to see. We want to be in control of our own lives, turning left or right as we see fit.

God has given us plenty of evidence of his existence in what he has made, in the record of his dealings with men, in our own consciences, and in the Person of his Son, Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. Those who reject that evidence will have no excuse when they stand before their Maker, contrary to Bertrand Russell’s oft-quoted rejoinder.

So the moral of my take on the parable is this: an elephant is pretty big and hard to miss . . . unless you want to.

Do Christians consume Christ?

…where I seek to provide some food for thought from Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse in John 6.

bread2Are Christians cannibals? Some curious first-century onlookers thought so. The word was going around that when they met together they ate the flesh and drank the blood of their Lord. Eeww. This perception arose because of the Christians’ regular practice of sharing bread and wine as part of the communion ritual given by Jesus to commemorate his sacrificial death on the cross. “This is my body…this is my blood” were the words he used to initiate the ordinance, and his followers were to do the same, “in remembrance” of him. Without some crucial background information, it’s easy to see why they might have been labeled savages.

I don’t know that anyone today so grossly (pun intended) misunderstands the Christian rite of communion, also called the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper, but there is still real disagreement between Christians ourselves about its meaning and very essence. The Catholic Church teaches that the bread and wine (or juice) are actually transformed into the “real presence” of Jesus when consecrated by a priest, in what is known as transubstantiation, so that they actually do consume Christ’s body and blood. Lutherans take a similar but subtly different view, and most other Christians believe communion to be a commemorative ritual only.

The Catholic Church relies heavily on Jesus’ bread of life discourse in John Chapter 6 for its interpretation, where he appears to be promoting cannibalism in no uncertain terms. “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”1 Oh, that Jesus. He’s such a kidder. Let’s look carefully at what he said…in context.

Before we do that, however, let’s first consider that as the Son of God, one would rightly expect that Jesus’ speech would be anything but bland or textbook. As the one through whom all things were created2, there is none more creative than he. And that occasionally the profundity and mystery of his chosen words and patterns of speech would be designed to draw the listener up to greater heights of knowledge and understanding. He is, after all, wisdom itself.3 And he is the Word, the Logos4..Reason and Truth. He is also the Judge of all the earth, whose Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,… and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) So his words may be a weapon of judgment.

A cursory examination of the words of Jesus is enough to establish that he used metaphor liberally. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up.” (Matthew 15:13) “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” (John 15:1) And, of course, he made frequent use of illustrative parables…metaphorical word pictures, not to be understood literally but designed to convey a truth by means of comparison.

It would also be helpful to notice that Jesus’ words were sometimes anything but straightforward. In the account of the rich, young ruler who asked him how to inherit eternal life, addressing him as “good” teacher, Jesus responds, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) What appears at first to be a denial of his goodness is clearly seen to be otherwise in light of numerous other passages where he asserts his equality with the Father or accepts worship as God. Jesus was provocatively deflecting the young man’s compliment so as to entice him to really think about what he was saying, and to recognize who he was talking to.

And in Matthew 22 we have Jesus asking the Pharisees whose son the Messiah is and they answer, correctly, the son of David. But then he confounds them by quoting David’s own words where he says, “The Lord said to my Lord…” and asks, “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matt. 22:44-45) Here again Jesus is speaking obliquely in order to provoke his hearers to think, and perhaps consider that their Messiah and Lord is right in front of them.

So now, coming to John 6, we have a crowd from the 5,000 plus who had just witnessed and experienced the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes, chasing after Jesus hoping for another supernatural feeding. He wastes no time in exposing their earth-bound, stomach-centered nature and charges them not “to work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” (John 6:27) So after giving them an object lesson in God’s provision for their physical bodies, Jesus uses that to call attention to their need for spiritual food. But though he repeatedly emphasizes the spiritual as represented by the physical – as in, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”- they just don’t get it. Until at last their obstinacy is judged when Jesus gives them over to their refusal to get their focus off their bellies, by getting even more graphic with the analogy. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…” (John 6:54)

It’s at this point that I believe Jesus is saying, in effect, “You are hearing but not listening. If you were, you would understand and believe. Your completely carnal minds are conjuring up concepts of cannibalism. [I’m quite sure Jesus was fond of alliteration, as am I.] Yet I have been speaking to you not about flesh, but about spirit and life. So because of your stubborn and willful blindness, I will make my teaching even more unpalatable.”

Many of his disciples, the chapter goes on to say, couldn’t stomach this teaching and quit. They no longer followed him, because they never really believed in him. Those who did affirmed it when Jesus asked them if they wanted to leave as well. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69)

Disagreements among Christians regarding the nature of the Eucharist need not divide us. Except that in the Catholic Church, the doctrine of transubstantiation is the impetus and locus of the Mass, when Jesus is said to be actually sacrificed each time it is observed, but in an “unbloody” manner. This takes the interpretation to a whole other level, which would require a whole other post.

The analogy of ingesting something representative of Christ is meant, like baptism, to symbolize our complete identification and union with him. It’s a visual reminder of the invisible reality of Christ in us, “the hope of glory.”5

What an awesome, wonderful, loving God we serve who would want that for us.

1 John 6:55
2 Colossians 1:16
3 1 Corinthians 1:24
4 John 1:1
5 Colossians 1:27

The hiddenness of God

Hey. Did you miss me? Sometimes I long for my elementary school days when summertime was all about sleeping in and having fun. Summer is a busy season for me now.

But enough about me. Let’s get metaphysical.

If God wants us to believe in him, why doesn’t he just show himself in all his glory? eye of God copyThis is the problem of the “hiddenness” of God. Many who are unconvinced of his existence assert that if there truly is a Supreme Being who sincerely wants his creatures to believe in him, then surely he would make himself known in an undeniable way. At face value, this is a reasonable conclusion. But upon further consideration we can easily conclude differently.

A crucial element in any consideration of method is purpose. For what did God create us? If his purpose was simply to have an adoring throng of dumbstruck worshippers, then some serious shock and awe would be called for. But what if his purpose instead was to have “children” to love and be loved by…to have a relationship with that is freely entered into? This adds some complexity to the understanding of his hiddenness.

But let’s imagine, first of all, what it might be like to “see” God. He is a spirit…an unembodied mind…so he would need to take on some sort of body, perhaps of a gigantic, Godzilla-sized man (interesting name for that monster, yes?) but perhaps something else. Whatever form he might take, it would have to be incredible enough to convince us that this is God…though there would be some who still would not believe, thinking his appearance to be a mass hallucination. Since God is so immeasurably greater than us, much greater even than our superiority relative to gnats (take that, gnat), any comparable visible appearance would so overwhelm us as to render us as dead. Fear would paralyze us, and that would be the predominant emotion in our “relationship” with God. But fear is not very conducive to love, and God wants us to love him. Yes, the Bible is filled with admonitions to “fear God,” but that’s a reference to his authority over us and our rightful response of submission and obedience. It’s not a command to cower and tremble in paralyzing terror.

So consider now the method God chose to reveal himself. He created us – so wonderfully complex and incredible in design – and placed us in a world of immense beauty and splendor…great mountains and vast oceans…heavenly bodies that provide warmth and light…plants and trees that provide nourishment with nary any effort on our part, and water that falls from the sky to quench our thirst…none of which, as we are keenly aware, we can take credit for. Then he chose a people to represent him, spoke to a few of them, appeared as pillars of fire and smoke, worked great miracles around and through them, then incarnated as foretold so that we could better know him and his love for us. He gave us enough evidence of his existence to draw us into a love relationship, but not so much that we are compelled by fear alone to submit to him.

Consider something else. It seems that it would still be possible to reject God’s authority even if we saw him in all his glory. Some angels did. Do you not think that these “fallen” angels were, and we would be, immediately banished by God forever …no second and third chances? I believe it is the mercy of God that motivates him to deny us his direct and visible glorious presence. This allows him to extend to us enough time and opportunity to become convinced, and even reject him for a season. The mystery inherent in his hiddenness makes it possible for him to receive us back as the prodigal son when we repent.

God’s restrained revelation of himself is as a secret lover who sends gifts anonymously, or as a handsome and wealthy king who disguises himself to the woman he loves in order to win her love, and be assured that it is given wholeheartedly and not because of his riches or beauty but because of who he is. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis similarly describes God this way, “the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of [God’s] scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo.”1

There will come a day when God will no longer be hidden, and we will see him in all his glory. If that’s a day you’re waiting for in order to believe…well, you will believe. But unfortunately, it will be too late.

1 C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (Westwood, N.J.: Barbour, 1961), 46.

Hope for the hater

What is hatred? Is it similar to darkness being the absence of light, and cold the absence of heat? Is hatred just the absence of love?Manning Brees

I’m sure I’ve been accused of hatred as I’ve spoken out against gay marriage, but holding a particular belief about morality is not hatred. How I act towards those who disagree with me can be.

Hate is such a strong term and I think it’s thrown around and used too indiscriminately these days, particularly by gay rights supporters against those who take a stand for the biblical teaching on homosexuality. This is truly unfair. But when they find in our speech and our actions attitudes devoid of love towards gays, the accusation comes fairly close to hitting the mark.

So when I read this morning of an Iowan newspaper editor who got fired after posting about homosexuality on his personal blog, I immediately wondered what exactly he said and how he said it. The news article mentioned the editor’s use of the term “Gaystapo” which was enough to make me cringe, but the link to his blog came up empty, as it had apparently been taken down. I did, however, find an excerpt on another blog where he referenced the “deceivers among us” and sarcastically referred to “the LGBTQXYZ crowd” and used the expression “flaming homo.” This is not helpful.

Let me just say that if I have not already used sarcasm in my posts about homosexuality, I have certainly considered it. It’s so tempting because sarcasm is a very entertaining form of expression and if my blog makes people smile, I’ll get more followers. But it would only be appreciated by those who already agree with me, and my hope when I write is to change the minds of those who don’t. Those who write to entertain get more followers, but not converts.

The calls for the news editor’s firing might still have come if he spoke the truth in love (and either way, it’s a bit hypocritical to call into question his ability to do his job fairly when the liberal biases of so many in the news industry is widely known). But certainly our effectiveness in persuading others would dramatically increase if we were more like Jesus instead of the sarcastic Roman soldiers who crucified him. “And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’”1 If we are intent on honoring God’s law we must remember that, “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 2

Our opponents will remain so as long as they feel unloved and disrespected by us. This is one of the reasons I so admire and follow Christian apologists Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig, and why I believe they have such incredible influence. They always speak and write with kindness and respect towards everyone, including those with whom they disagree. That’s “speaking the truth in love.” Not that we need to have a particular affection or feeling, but that our words and actions reflect a genuine concern for our fellow human beings made in the image of God.

I am inclined to think that, yes, hatred is the absence of love, and in case you haven’t noticed, there’s plenty of hatred to go around, on both sides of whatever aisle you’re lined up on. But it’s just such a beautiful thing when opponents come together, maybe not in agreement, but in love. That’s one of the reasons I like football – seeing the opposing players talking with each other after the game. I think we’re afraid of the word ‘love’ because it can mean so much more than we intend. But when defined as concern for the good of the one loved, it is certainly an appropriate and desirable attitude to have towards others, even those who might be considered our enemies. Here again, Jesus is our model:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great.” 3

Our reward, at the very least, will be the influence we desire when we dispel the darkness of hate with the light of love.

1Matthew 27:29
2Galatians 5:14
3Luke 6:35a