Here is the link to Monday's post about the AME church whose doors were painted with racial slurs.
Yesterday the paper noted that it was decided by officials that it was not a hate crime, instead it was just a prank or vandalism done by some juveniles. (See the Florence Times article). However they are clear that their investigation is not finished.
In his editorial, the editor said this "Even if the the incident was intended as an ugly prank, it's difficult to view it as anything other than a hate crime."
Several things have come to my mind about this incident. First if the doors of our churches were painted with some slurs or symbols that put down Christianity, how would we respond?
Secondly in any prank or any sarcastic remark there is usually an edge of the negative, whether the person owns it or not. How would we help the person with the underlying negativism that is there?
Thirdly How are we the churches in the community to respond to this particular event and others that may occur as well to places of worship? One of the things that was said of the church during Hitler's reign of Germany was that the church stood by and did nothing and said nothing to stop the Holocaust and the other abuses his regime incurred. Will we do the same or be willing to speak the truth in love?
One of the things that stands out about Jesus was he was not afraid to speak the truth in love. Paul in Ephesians 4:14 -15 writes this; "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
Leviticus 19:17-18 reads this way: "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." Jesus picks up these words in Matthew 22:37-39: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment and the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Instead of letting hate dominate our thinking and our actions let's chose to love first the Lord our God and then to love our neighbor as ourself; including whoever spray painted these words on the church doors.
It is interesting, I am preaching Sunday on the Leviticus passage.