Why are people so awful to one another?
I know that the Hatfields hate the McCoys, the Krips can't stand the Bloods, the Arabs despise the Israelis and North Korea hates everybody (including each other).
But I'm talking about people who wear the name of Christ being mean to other Christians. "Tattling, backbiting and excessive anger," to quote from a commonly used Church Covenant.
It is sad to watch unbelievers destroy relationships and each other as they pursue their own selfish desires through life. But how heart-breaking to observe Christians whose only joy seems to be in wrecking churches and the reputations of those not "on our side" in their petty disputes.
Xenophobia is "fear of the stranger." It is the natural state of humankind since the fall. A fear of "the other," those different from ourselves or outside our group, that progresses quite naturally to hatred.
But didn't Jesus "give us a new commandment?" I'm supposed to love my brother in Christ and he me. I suppose it's okay if you are a trifle put out with me from time to time. My wife certainly is.
I'm not talking about innocent offense here. Or the occasional lapse (God knows I have trouble keeping my big mouth shut sometimes). I'm talking about a deliberate (and wicked) attempt to wound someone whom we are commanded to love.
God's general mercy (Psalm 145:9) allows all people to experience love. But His sovereign mercy (that which saves sinners) compels us to "love the brothers." How dare I (God having been merciful to me) not extend that mercy to other Christians, and refrain from willfully doing that which would harm them?
James has warned us to be "quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." "If possible," reminds Paul, "as far as it depends on you, live peacably with all."
May God guard us from the temptation to speak ill of others. May we instead seek to encourage one another and build one another up.
Oh, by the way; I think Lucy Lawless is OK. For a New Zealander.