"...love one another."
"And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. It's a dead rat. I found it not long ago during a walk through a cemetery. I wanted to start this week's "wonderings" with a really good picture of death. Not very pretty is it...
This week the news reports that the state of New Jersey and its teacher's union are in conflict over the upcoming state budget. With a large budget deficit looming, the governor is proposing cutting state aid to schools. (I'm not taking sides in this conflict, just lifting up the following detail). Early this week one of the regional offices of the teachers' union circulated a memo with the suggestion that folks pray for the governor's death since he was proposing the cut in funds.
Is it just me, or is there something about praying for someone's death that just doesn't quite flow from Jesus' new commandment to, "love one another?" There are powerful messages being broadcast and circulated today about how we are to treat one another. It's as though rudeness, disrespect, aggression, violence, and hatred are the norms for a new "book of manners." Sometimes it takes awhile for the consequences of this new wave of relating to catch up, but the picture at the end is always just as ugly as my dead rat.
If we disengage our brains, mimic the behaviors on the pages from the "new manners handbook," and forget that as Christians we are called to follow Christ's handbook (ie., "As I have loved you, so you must love one another") we are doomed to live in death. We will eventually kill each other emotionally and even physically. We're talking about life and death here. If we keep slipping toward thinking it's okay to pray for another person's death (even if said jokingly) then we're headed toward a major catastrophe.
Surely we value life more than that. If we do (and I invite you to ask yourself if you do) then we must send that message. We must show we value life in our love and respect for one another. There are plenty of messages proclaiming the "new book of manners" as the next standard for living. I pray that God will help me with everything I do to send Christ's message of love for one another as the standard for life, no matter how much I might disagree with another. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
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