Christians Are Called Not to Hate

Does this mean we abandon justice? No. But our first priority is our relationship with God and our neighbor.

September 16, 2001

I want to begin by clearing up any misunderstand some of you may have. I placed the information about Islam in the bulletin and spoke of Islam at the beginning of the service without any subtle political agenda. I am called to be your pastor and your teacher. I don't care what your political opinions are. I love you people, and it is only out of concern for your spiritual well-being that I put the inserts in the bulletin.

The events of Tuesday are beyond words. We've tried: horrific, despicable, terrible, evil, etc. But all words seem to fail. And so the media has simply, and perhaps too often, shown the pictures and broadcast the sounds as we have tried to take in the magnitude and profundity of what has happened.

The word I have found for me and I think for all of us that describes Tuesday is "painful". I'm usually one of those persons who can decide whether something is going to 'get to me' or not. And I really tried this week to keep these events 'outside'. To keep it away; to keep it 'a news event'. To pray for people in a detached sort of way; to protect my heart. But I have found that as the stories have come out--of last words of love shared over cell phone calls; of firefighters and police who died trying to save others, of persons who have lost office colleagues and sisters and brothers and parents and friends; as I have heard their names read and the tear-filled voices of the persons who love them, the pain has settled in.

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You know, we live with many more deaths than these from auto accidents, from various diseases, from gunshots. But these deaths were different. These were no accidents of human error or fate. These persons were murdered. It is almost inconceivable that anyone would hate enough, would fear enough, would choose to be evil enough to do something like this. And that has added to the pain. It hurts enough to consider the tremendous loss to friends and families and all the various groups and communities to which these people belonged. But it is pain upon pain to realize that there is such evil in the world. We will not be the same again. Not because so many have died; but because we now know in a visceral way what we knew only in theory-that we share the world with evil.

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