I read a story today about a woman who made a hobby out of mocking a 7 year-old girl with a fatal disease. She was a neighbor of the girl, and apparently this all grew out of a petty feud. This woman had a facebook group devoted to celebrating this girl's impending death and even made mocking Halloween decorations to further torment this girl and her family. Her actions were grotesque and utterly disgusting.
Then the Internet found out about it, and if there's one thing the Internet likes, it's mob justice. They quickly found out where this woman lived and the tables were turned. This woman was forced to give a very public apology in an effort to halt the harassment.
Here's the deal. Part of me is rooting for the Internet vigilantes who tracked down and posted this woman's address and made her life hell. Part of me enjoys reading about what horrors were unleashed upon this likely deserving target. But then I hear that still, small voice that says, "I died for her, too."
Leave it to Jesus to ruin my schadenfreude.
Hatred is easy for me. Life's been kind of frustrating lately and it's fun to have someone to take it out on, someone to hate and wish bad things upon. I like cultivating a rich hate. I'm very good at that seething hatred, and I can let it simmer for a good long time.
But that's not what Jesus calls us to. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Bless those who curse you. Why? Why can't we hate the people who deserve it?
Two reasons. The first is that when we hate, we become the worst versions of ourselves and, in many cases, wind up just as bad, if not worse, than the people we hate. Hatred destroys you from the inside and it will consume and destroy you. You aren't capable of enjoying the blessings God has for you, and you instead seek only to destroy others. This is not the life Jesus wanted for us when He promised us joy, joy to make us complete. He wanted to save us from becoming little more than walking, festering bags of bile. That's a horrible existence.
The second is that none of us are righteous. We are all evil and despicable. God loves us and forgives us NOT because we deserve it, but because He loves us despite our flaws. If God forgives us in our sin, we should be able to forgive others and not be consumed with hate. God cut us a break, we should do the same for others.
It doesn't make it easy. I'd rather pray that God smites this woman and all other people who I find utterly despicable. Instead, I pray for them. I don't pray much on their behalf, but just enough so that it makes it impossible to hate them. I don't want to become to vile and hateful that I find myself taunting dying children, and praying for those who do is how I will make this happen.