Summary: What is the power of love? What is the power of hate? This message is a study in contrasts.
The self-proclaimed “King of Adultery” was dethroned this week after his adultery website, Ashley Madison, was hacked. Private data of more than 30 million users was leaked by a hacker group calling itself “The Impact Team”. Good name.
They’ve had quite an impact. There have been at least 2 suicides by men that used the website and had their names exposed. Many other marriages are now hanging in the balance as wives learn of their husband’s at least exploration of extra-marital affairs.
It’s not a happy state of affairs for a lot of people these days.
My first impression when I heard about this adultery-encouraging website 6 or 7 years ago was: “Now there’s an idea from the pit of hell”.
And, of course, it is. A couple makes a solemn vow rooted in love, a covenant for a lifetime, the most important contract 2 humans can ever make. And a website exists to reel married people into breaking that covenant, to dishonouring that vow. An idea from the pit of hell.
The website, and the company behind it, is facing several class action lawsuits totalling more than 500 million dollars. Whatever profit the owners made will disappear into nothing, as will, sadly, an unknown number of marriages.
It makes you wonder. It makes you think. About the nature of human beings. About what people will do to make money. It might even make you wonder about love. Human love. The nature of it. The quality of it.
Yeah...What is love? Have you ever asked that? Or have you ever had someone say to you that they didn’t know what love is? I’ve seen people really struggle to find out what it means to love.
I’ve seen friendships fail for lack of love. If you think about it, we’ve seen devastation occur for lack of love. The shooting this week on air of a reporter and a cameraman by an angry and disturbed former anchorman. The massacre earlier in the summer in July of 9 people participating in a Bible Study by a racist. Ongoing strife in Palestine and Israel.
ISIS trying to establish a barbaric, medieval religious society or theocracy. That’s just one battle the world faces today.
There are too many places in the world where war rages under the radar of front page news headlines. We don’t hear about most of the wars going on in the world unless those wars directly affect western interests.
And we ask, “Why!?” What in the world has brought about the current state of the world? Most of us are used to just struggling with our own problems, working through our own issues. Our minds occupied with the day-to-day.
And then...BOOM. The huge struggles that the world is facing intrude in on our lives. With a vengeance. It might seem like it’s been a while, and it has been, since 9/11, since the Rwandan Genocide. But wait for it. Sadly, there’s more to come. So many people, it seems, are so angry at others. There’s so much hate in the world.
This is difficult to talk about because for most of us here today, we come to church to learn to live another way, to connect our lives or to renew our connection with the One who is love itself, the One who said, “Greater love has no man than to lay die his life for his friends” and followed it up with action.
The God who by definition is “love”. But if we’re going to understand, truly, the power of love, we need to take a realistic, if brief, look at the problem of hate. There is a power to hate. It is
The Power of Confusion
John says in 1 John 2:11 “Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him”.
Hatred distorts reality. It causes people to be so focussed on what they are upset about that they don’t see how it is changing them, how it is affecting them. Those who hate don’t know where they are going, says John.
The power of hate is also the power to divide.
The Power to Divide
Hate involves a deep rejection of another. It is not merely a matter of not having time for another. It involves a wholesale rejection of another person.
Then comes a great divide. Once there was perhaps a walking together, a talking together, a sharing together. Now there are only walls. Barriers.
A new not-knowing another. And then in the absence of communication and relationship, assumptions are made. The worst is thought. The vacuum is filled with suspicions.
People who should be friends, be working together toward a common good are prevented by a huge division between them.