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First Christian Church /  One Bread, One Body
One Bread, One Body

Oklahoma’s own Will Rogers once famously said, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”  He was loved and admired for stating, and living such a life.  That was then and things have changed.

Hating has become a virtue.  An Irish poet, Dylan Thomas wrote, “Once you don’t like someone, you don’t like anything about them.”  That is so tragically true.  I find that many of us have a hard time finding people who measure up to our own very high standards of lifestyle, opinions and beliefs.

Few things demonstrate this as much as the American electoral process.  There are currently about 25,000 people seeking their parties’ nominations and every one of them has accomplished enough in their lives to attract enough petition signers to get on the ballot, and donors to tell us what they want us to know.  I’ll repeat myself: all of them are people of achievement.  Yet, to listen to us, you can’t tell.  The way we degrade the ones we don’t prefer is a national scandal and it belittles us all.

It can’t be enough for us to have differing opinions on philosophies of government, approach to illegal immigration, or drugs on our streets.  We can’t just politely disagree and vote for someone else; no, that’s not enough for us.  We move on to hate them for how they’ve made a living, their skin color, how they comb their hair, the faiths they profess, or the faiths we suspect.  We grant ourselves permission to hate them, speak horribly of them, and diminish the plausibility of our own faith claims.  These are my thoughts when I hear a joke, an unkind statement or see a forwarded email from an all—the—while—professing Christian.

In 1994, the African nation of Rwanda broke out into genocidal warfare between the Tutsis and Hutus.  They’d gotten along fine for over 400 years but tribal warfare killed about a million, making refugees of as many.  People who’d lived in peace now hated the other because they were of different tribes. Western humanitarian aide was dosed with heavy judgment against this nonsense.  Quickly, the American way of hating is leaving us with no room to judge the Tutsis or Hutus or anyone else.

Another African, Bishop Desmond Tutu has observed, “God’s standards are really very low.”  I celebrate this every time I consider God’s love for even me. I must deny myself the temerity of setting higher standards on others.

Glad to be your pastor, Arnold


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