I hate people.
Or, at least, that's what I told my husband, numerous times, as we traipsed across Europe, people everywhere (apparently August is the height of tourist season in Paris, which maybe extends to all of Europe? - which clearly makes it the ideal time for crowd-despising individuals like ourselves to make a visit). People shoving, people looking out for their own interests, even if it clearly interferes with what someone else is trying to do, people just being people.
As an introvert, there is definitely a large part of me that hates people, particularly en masse. But as a believer in Christ, there is a large part of me that loves people, or wants to love them.
Yet, there has been an overwhelming reminder lately, in our lives, in the lives of dear friends, in the lives of those in our church, and even now, reminders in the media, that people fail. They fail in big ways. In hurtful, devastating ways. People we would have regarded as examples or pillars of faith, as family, friends, or even someone in the distance to admire. They have failed. They have failed in ways we would never have imagined or believed if we'd been told (and in some ways we didn't want to believe, even after we were told).
And part of me just wants to declare it once again: I hate people.
But the truth of the matter is, when I hear about these people and the choices they have made that bring shame to themselves, their families and, most importantly, to the name of God, I don't hate the people. I hate Satan.
I hate the lies he has whispered in their ears. I hate the victory dance I imagine is happening even now as yet another warrior and champion for the cause of Christ has been tried and found guilty. He is delighting in the downfall of those who have brought others to the Lord, who have discipled and encouraged godly living. The downfalls that will, undoubtedly, cause some to question all they know about God when the person they learned it from has let them down. He is celebrating stolen innocence, broken homes, fallen tears, and shattered hearts.
He is having the time of His life.
And I burn with hatred.
Yet, in this moment, this moment when it feels like there are no good people left in the world, we have to remember:
But that's because the one good person in this world died two thousand years ago. The rest of us have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We have been tried and found guilty. We are unworthy to carry His cause or His name. Even those of us in the church, who have embraced our redemption found in the old rugged cross, but who have found it difficult to put to death what is earthly in us (Colossians 3:5).
Some of us have our flaws publicly declared, our names dragged into the Colisseum of public mockery and scorn. The rest of us are secretly glad no one can see what is happening behind our closed doors.
And if we are not. If we have become so puffed up as to believe that we have nothing to hide, or nothing in our lives that could bring us shame, let us be aware that this is exactly where Satan wants us. Because when we have decided we are above it all and "would never do that," that's when he knows he has us. When we are not on our guard, constantly aware of what is broken in us, constantly clinging to Christ and begging he would cleanse our putrid hearts. Daily asking, because this process of sanctification, being renewed in knowledge after the image of our Creator (Colossians 3:10), is just that - a process, a daily, sometimes tedious, sometimes heart-wrenching, process, which will not be completed until the day of Christ. When we are not in this place recognizing, but for the grace of God, there go I. When we are not whispering in the ear of God, when we have become weak in our own strength, leaving the smallest opening for the whispers of the enemy, that is when we fail to notice where our path is going - where those whispers are taking us.
And when I see that this is me. This person who has taken one more step, and then another and then another toward that one feeble calling I have heard before and been tempted to follow. In that moment of recognition, I find myself unworthy.
And I find Him worthy. The One who stepped down from His throne to walk the earth among these people. These throngs of crowding, mocking people. To subject Himself to humiliation and scorn on behalf of all of us who have brought shame to His name, so that He can bring us out of this pit and He can embrace in love those of us who would so easily be consumed by hate. He was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
Because we all, like sheep have gone astray. We have turned - every one - to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him (on Him, the only perfect one, undeserving of wrath) the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). Yet, out of the anguish of His soul he shall see and be satisfied; for He has made many to be accounted as righteous (Isaiah 53:11).
Our boast is not in the strength of flesh and bone, but in the costly wounds of love. We all are weak, yet He is strong. And He welcomes all of us, failures that we are, into the righteousness that is only found in Him. Into the redemption provided for all of us. At the cross.