Presbyterians Today

SEP-OCT 2016

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Vernon Broyles III is a volunteer for public witness in the PC(USA)'s Office of the General Assembly. 48 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2 0 1 6 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay The subtleties of hate Everyday lives of privilege make it easy to ignore 'the least of these' among the small, privileged percentage of humanity who have enough to eat every day, who have durable lodging, who can access some measure of health care when we are hurt or ill, who have meaningful work to do, who are free from political repression, who can gather with others of like faith to freely celebrate the God we worship. Have we nothing to say to purveyors of hate? Or do we not grasp the full meaning of hate as Jesus understood it? In Jesus' lexicon, hate is manifest not just in discrimi- nation or in verbal or physical violence against others. Hate is also operative when we simply neglect others or consign them to the margins. His fiercest condemnations come as he declares: "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me" (Matt. 25:44–45). Against a world that says, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy," Jesus embodies in his life, death, and resurrection the answer to every form of hate that marks the human condition. And his answer is not "Be nice to each other" or "Please play well together." Jesus' answer to hate is "Love one another, as I have loved you." As his followers, we are called to speak and act in both the private and public realm in ways that heal the divisions among us and remove anything that demeans or denies any of God's children. The choices are love or hate. John's epistle is clear. When we say we love God but fail in our response to those in need around us, we are liars. May God fill us with the Holy Spirit so that we may be restored from hate to love. Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.—1 John 4:20 In a college address, author Kurt Vonnegut once said, "All my life I've had people to hate. . . . It is a tragedy, perhaps, that human beings get so much energy and enthusiasm from hate. . . . Hate beats cocaine any day. Hitler resurrected a beaten, bankrupt, half-starved nation with hatred and nothing more. Imagine that." Sadly, our nation and our world are riven by hatred. Leaders of nations speak words of hatred toward other nations and toward those within their borders who chal- lenge their behavior and their policies. Religious leaders, as well, too often use rhetoric purported to represent their faith traditions to incite hatred and violence for persons of different faiths or of no faith. Even in our own country, where freedom of speech and belief are enshrined in our Constitution, differences are framed in passionately polarizing calls to action that leave no room for any who seek a middle way, only those discerning who are friends and who are enemies. All of this is exacerbated by the tribalism endemic to the human family—tribalism often used to consolidate power by some over others, tribalism built on racial and ethnic categories, as well as on categories of economic and social privilege, designed to maintain that power. And where are "the Christians"? To our shame we are too often enmeshed in these tangled webs of power and privilege, especially if we are JUSTICE FOR GOD'S WORLD | Vernon Broyles III Coming in November/December Life changes New babies bring changes. Retirement offers challenges. These joyous occasions can be fraught with vulnerability and anxiety. Explore how these and other times of transforma- tion can strengthen our dependence on God. Churches in transition Most congregations are in a state of flux, even if they don't realize it! The role of the church and even the role of the pastor are changing quickly. Mark Roth explores how transitional ministry ideas can be helpful in any congregation. Customer Service Order or renew a subscription 800-558-1669 Purchase extra copies or a past issue 800-524-2612 Change of address Reprint permission and subscription problems 800-728-7228 x5627 Email us General: Editor: justice and only justice, you shall pursue (deut. 16:20)

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