The slide towards hate starts several dials below spewing expletives. We as Christians need to examine our hearts when it comes to engaging with those who disagree with us, especially those whose purposes aim to subvert and shatter the Christian worldview. What do we want for these people? Do we actually want their salvation, or do we just want them out of the way? If we let a gospel of sacrifice set our pattern in answering these questions, it will unravel threads of murder.
“You shall not murder”
“Have you lived a good life?”
“Well, I’ve never killed anyone.”
Christians know that line won’t stand up in God’s courtroom. We quickly pivot away from murder to press the sin issue from other angles. “Have you loved God perfectly, every moment of your life? Have you ever coveted something? Have you ever lusted?” When we swing the spotlight to focus on catching surface sins, the nuances of murder scuttle away to nest in the safe, dark shadows under the bed. So while Christians point the finger at the more obvious and ostentatious sins of the world around us (usually sex and greed), we unwittingly harbor and nurture some of the very sins that make us most repulsive to unbelievers, namely murder.
Jesus raises the bar on murder to such a height that we hardly know what to make of it. In Matthew 5:22, he traces murder down to the root of anger, even a hasty insult. Because the final fruition of murder seems to come so far downstream from anger, we wave away our outbursts. And the dismissal has some merit. Anger is not the same as murder, and we’ll cause all manner of difficulties if we treat the two exactly the same. Anger has a progression. Somewhere along a progression of repeated surges of anger directed against a single target, that anger congeals into hatred. When that happens, a Christian has more than dipped his toe in the stream of murder; he’s starting to wade.
You don’t hate anybody, do you? That depends. In-person, or online? Are we talking about an individual or a collective identity group? A person’s online digital persona and reputation often comes to represent just as much, if not more, of their identity than their physical presence.