Love as a Second Thought

God, I’m angry.

Angry at the cruelty I see in my own people. People who claim the Bible, go to church, and stand for your sovereignty, but neglect the weightier matters like justice and mercy. They follow the rules, but have forgotten the love that saved them in the first place.

I see God-fearing men setting up whittled logs like spears in a defensive formation around our country, wrapping them in barbed wire and setting guards at every spike, daring anyone to enter. America good, outside bad. Fear has driven them to generalizations, and generalizations to prejudice. And all the church said, “Amen.”

I see terror in their eyes and guns in their hands, a frightening combination. They shoot first and ask nothing. They fight against, not for. I see bombs being hurled at women who make the wrong choice. I see priests and Levites crossing to the other side of the road to avoid the wounded and victimized. I see whips of shame cracking across the backs of the addicted.

I see hatred. I see fear. I see a cross wreathed in Klansmen fire.

But the worst part is I see all these thing even when I close my eyes, resonating in my blood with each beat of my heart.

Fear has infected me. I want to sidestep the stranger on the road, look away from the homeless man, let someone else pick up the broken-down, to remove certain peoples so I don’t have to deal with the complications and dangers. I want to push it all away and mind my own business. To stay safe.

Love is not my first thought. So God, let it be my second.

I am human. I have human fears and reflexes, instincts that the world has taught me. I want those instincts gone, to love first as you loved me first, as you loved the Pharisees who nailed you to the cross, as you loved Judas who betrayed you.

But until I reach that perfect place, teach me to quell that first instinct, the hiss and the raised hair. Soothe me and remind me it’s okay, that love is your way. Stop my tongue before it speaks. Stop my hand before it strikes. Stop my feet before they walk away.

Then let me try again. When I forget myself and remember you, my compassion returns, and my willingness to sacrifice. Give me second chances until it becomes second nature.

Until that glorious day when love is the first thought to pass through my dark mind.

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