A Letter From the Pastor: Choose Love Over Hate
I am confident that when Jesus followers take steps to practice choosing love over hate, God will use the present social turmoil (which was not created by God) to further the work of redemption. You and I are needed in that endeavor! Therefore, below I have outlined--and elaborated upon--the 4 next steps that I offered on Sunday. Let’s consider applying one or more of these steps to our individual lives as we follow the Good Samaritan’s example of love.
4 Next Steps: How To Practice Choosing Love Over Hate
1. Pray (Talk with God).
Take 5 minutes daily, at a set time, perhaps in a favorite chair, and talk with God. As you talk and listen, reflect on the questions below. Consider taking one question per day and using a notebook to record your reflections. Be honest, without judging yourself.
Pray: “Lord, I truly want to grow as an instrument of your love. Help me to see where I need to stretch, and give me the faith and courage to lean in.
Lord please show me (and choose your question of the day):”
- Do I use stereotypes (e.g.,”All/some ___ people are a certain way.”) to unfairly attack others or entire groups?
- Am I afraid to take the risk of standing up or speaking out for what is right and just?
- Is my anger becoming hatred for others who have deeply hurt me? Or, is it becoming hatred for those who have hurt the ones I love?
- In addition to being concerned for the oppressed, victimized and wounded, am I also concerned about loving those who oppress, victimize and wound? And am I concerned that God will liberate them from their hatred and brokenness?
- Does my pain currently render me incapable of seeing the brokenness in those who have wounded me and praying for their healing?
2. Dialogue with others unlike you.
Consider starting a dialogue with individuals in your Life Group (small group), circle of friends, family, or colleagues who think differently on a range of current issues. Here are examples of topics to discuss:
- Should Confederate monuments be removed or remain?
- Should the President be supported or opposed?
- How do you feel about the opioid crisis?
- Should we send more troops to Afghanistan?
- What is the state of race relations in America?
This dialogue can be enhanced by engaging in conversations with others of different races, classes, political parties or even faith! Remember: Use our #Connect4Challenge strategy. The first three steps of the #Connect4Challenge emphasize listening to learn! Implement step 4 (“Stretch towards each other in a new way”) of the Challenge by sharing openly. Here are some things to consider when executing this step: Begin with your feelings. (“Here is how I feel.”) Then later introduce your thoughts. (“Here is what I think.”) Engage in a respectful dialogue while acknowledging how the first three steps (listening, acknowledging, praying) may have informed, expanded, or created pause for further personal reflection. Remember: This is not about winning an argument. It is about facilitating an opportunity for God to grow you and others.
3. Refuse to look the other way (speak up with love).
Consider one or more of the options below:
- If you see someone acting or speaking harmfully towards another -- speak out in love. Engage the person who is being hurtful, but try to listen for his/her pain.
- If there is a public forum for protesting or promoting your voice, that aligns with your values and that does not undermine your faithful witness of love, participate. (Participation in violence or name calling would be examples of undermining your witness of love.)
- Commit to regular church attendance at NBCC or another diverse church community.
- (This action alone drives forward a new reality of diversity, faith, and hope.)
- Work to raise children/grandchildren in ways that reinforce God’s love for everyone. Put them in contexts where they can develop role models across age, race, class, etc. A great place to start is in the context of NBCC’s Children’s and Youth Ministries.
4. Reach out to those experiencing anxiety, fear, or pain.
Notice people around you at home, school, the office, etc. If you sense anxiety or pain, be willing to engage with them in a warm and supportive manner. For example: If a hug or prayer is appropriate--do so. Remind them that things will be okay. Just a few moments of showing that you care can change someone's entire day. Love never fails!
Take your time over the next several months to return prayerfully to the steps above. Evaluate if it is time to take one more step. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You don’t have to be perfect at any one step. It may be helpful to partner with a friend or Life Group to find support as you execute the above steps. God will bless you and others for each step you take!
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” -- Micah 6:8 (NIV)