A few weeks ago, someone did something a little whack to me. It wasn’t a lot of whack, just a little. A lot of whack is like the time in 9th grade when I shaved a Vanilla Ice style stripe into my eyebrow and told everyone that my friend Kerri did it and she confronted me in the cafeteria and I had to eat lunch in the library for the next few days out of sheer embarrassment. That was a lot of whack.
What happened to me recently was just a little whack and when it happened, I felt a little frustrated. Not a lot of frustrated, just a little. A lot of frustrated is like the time my pastor father got a call from the police station and he thought they were calling to ask him to buy some fundraising tickets to some sort of raffle but they were actually calling to inform him I’d been caught shoplifting and needed a ride home from the police station. That was a lot of frustrating.
What happened to me recently was just a little frustrating and I felt a little vengeful. Not a lot of vengeful, just a little. A lot of vengeful is like the time a retired pastor wrote my friend, who is also a pastor, a letter in which he explained how he was praying more fervently for anything than he ever had in his life that my friend would go blind because he was too arrogant. I wanted to do a month long serious on Stuff Christians Like called “Great reasons we give people not to become Christians.” That was a lot of vengeful.
This was just a little, but in the midst of being hurt that someone had done something whack to me, I realized something unexpected that I think is true:
An act of love is amplified exponentially when it is given in response to an act of hate.
Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever thought that the greatest time to send the loudest message of love is when someone has given you a message of hate?
It’s kind of counterintuitive, but it’s true. When someone hates you, when someone hurts you, when someone gossips about you or steals from you, they open up this deep chasm between the two of you. They dig a canyon’s worth of emotional distance, a gorge of separation that feels impossible to span.
Logic would tell you to step back from the edge of that gorge.
Rational thinking would tell you to move away from someone that is actively digging such a deep, painful expanse between where you stand and where they stand.
Reason would tell you that it’s probably impossible to ever cross that distance. That years and years must pass before you can even stand on the edge and stare off into the distance at someone far away from you.
But love isn’t bound by logic and ration and reason.
Love doesn’t play fair and neither does God.
He calls us to love our enemies. He calls us to love the people that are far away from us. He calls us to love the difficult and the sick and the jerks. (I’m not sure if the word “jerk” is in the Bible, but I’m trusting that the Message version has it at least once.)
And the weird thing, is that I think He calls us to do that is precisely because it’s the loudest way to show His love.
When you bridge a gap with love, when you step across a chasm that might have existed for decades in your family, you create a bridge that can be seen for miles and miles, generations and generations. Step out and love a close friend that’s bruised your feelings and you’ve created an overpass on a small creek. Jump out and love an enemy that’s deliberately and destructively tried to hurt everything you stand for, do you know what you do when you love that person? You create a connection that will put the Golden Gate Bridge to shame.
This is not easy. This is not simple. This is not something I am good at. I wanted to punch another dad in the face the other day at an Easter Egg hunt when his punk 5-year old pushed my daughter out of the way. But this is where I think God has me headed. And what an incredible opportunity we have when someone tells us that Christians are unloving or judgmental or hypocritical or a million other things that we’ve done to hurt people. We can bridge the gaps with compassion. We can bridge the gaps with surprising kindness. We can bridge the gaps with a love that doesn’t make sense.
Hope is heard loudest when it’s a response to hurt.
Comfort is heard loudest when it’s a response to pain.
Love is heard loudest when it’s a response to hate.
Let’s be loud.