It has always filled me with sadness that there is so much hate in the world. But it is heartbreaking to me that in the year 2017 we seem to be no closer to learning that hatred cannot win. I do not understand anyone who claims to be a lover of Jesus that can hate others based on their color, religious belief (or lack thereof), gender, nationality or any other reason. I do not hate the people who make up these hate groups, whatever their label, but I despise the philosophy that they have chosen to live (and sometimes, die) by. I realize that I do not understand the particular struggles of being Black, or Indian, or Native American, or a woman. I try to, but since I do not fall into any of those classifications in a meaningful way, I have no true point of reference. I read about White privilege, and I do realize that there are terrible blights on this nations record in how minorities have been treated. At the same time, I know what it is to be poor and for life to be hard. My first home was a little 3 room shack with no running water, very limited electricity, a wood-burning cook stove, and we ate what we could raise or hunt from the woods behind the house. We had very little in the way of earthly comforts, but we had love. I can never remember a time when love wasn’t enough.
I do believe what is wrong with this world is a heart condition more than a social one. I believe that the way to peace between brothers and sisters is found in Jesus’ teaching in Matt. 5:44: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. . . ” First of all, if you don’t believe in Jesus, that does not make you my enemy. If you think I am an ignorant, white, Hillbilly from the Appalachian mountains, that does not make you my enemy. If you are Black, Asian, Indian, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist, that does not make you my enemy. If you think that it is ok to cause hurt to anyone just because they are different from you, then you are my enemy. And with all the grace that God will give me, I love you. I will meet your every negative attack with the positive affirmation that my God reigns, and I will not get down and wallow with you in the muck of your hatred and supposed superiority. Make no mistake: because I love you and pray for you does not mean that I will stand by and be silent as you spew your hatred and hurt.
So what can I do? There are thousands of people ready to tell you what you can, should, or must do in order to stop this. But in the end, there is only one heart that I have any sway over . . . mine. Mine is the only tongue that I can bridle. My lips are the only ones that can pray the prayers that God lays on my heart. My hands can’t reach everyone, but I can reach out to the ones that He places within my grasp. Lord, forgive me when I have allowed fear to silence me, and help me to be the servant You have called me to be.
I love you, my friends, and I pray for the peace of God to rule in your hearts and minds.
Elder Mike McGrady