I’ve only been to Florida twice, to my grandparents’ winter house, the modest little ranch house they bought in the 50’s. The first time we went I was a toddler, younger than my daughter is now, but I do remember bits of the trip. I remember standing on the beach with my farther, staring out at the horizon as the sun set in glorious violet and orange. I asked him, “On the other side of the water, is there more beach?”
He assured me that there was.
I asked if we could go to it, and he said no. It was too far away.
I feel like crying now, but no tears will come. Another mass shooting, another terrorist attack. The headline I just saw called it the deadliest mass shooting in US history. They always say that, because the shootings just keep getting worse.
I’ve often been told to hate the sin and love the sinner, but I don’t know how to do that. Every time I try to do it, I end up hating the sinner. I conflate cultures, which are always a mix of good and evil, with the worst evil they tolerate or produce. I conflate the nastiest stereotypes with actual human beings. I imagine that the most vocal and violent members of a group represent the whole group. I begin to think that I am my brother’s judge. I forget that I am a sinner– that I am the worst of sinners. I think it takes up enough of my time, to learn to love and intercede for my brother, and to repent of my own sins, without taking time to hate. I’m terrible at loving, but I’ve come to believe that’s where my focus should be.I pray that the terrorist responsible for today’s murders, and all whom he murdered, and all who die violent deaths, and all who know Christ and all who do not know Him– and even all who hate Him, because we’re all guilty of that– that all of us will receive mercy to heal our sins.
I pray that none of us will be deterred by the distance, but that all of us will wade into the water and find the beach on the other side. I pray that none of us will judge our brothers and sisters as too far away to ever be worthy to reach the other shore. We’re all too far away. The ocean is too much for any of us, but the mercy of God is greater still.
Leave it at that, and pray for mercy.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on all of us sinners.
(image via pixabay)