ONLINE CHURCH BULLETIN
MURDERERS IN OUR MIDST
A man and his daughter got on a hotel elevator, and headed up. At the third floor, the elevator stopped and on walked an absolutely beautiful woman. She pushed the button for her floor, and the elevator started up again. Suddenly, she turned around and slapped the father very hard. A moment later, the elevator stopped at her floor, and she got off. The little girl turned to her father and said, "She didn't like you, did she?" The father replied, "I guess not." as he stroked his red cheek. "She certainly did slap me very hard." The little girl said, "Don't feel bad, Dad. I didn't like her either. She stepped on my toe when she got on the elevator, so I pinched her."
We may feel a pinch if others don't like us. But the Bible warns us that when people come to hate each other, it can be murder. First John 3:15 lays it out in black and white terms that hatred can make us homicidal — "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Many people, including some Christians, insist they have never violated the command, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13, New King James Version). But Jesus taught there is more to murder than physically taking someone's life. "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matthew 5:21-22). There is more to murder than meets the eye! In the passages cited, both John and Jesus speak words which reveal an unsettling truth. There are not only murderers in our prisons and on out streets, there may be murderers in our church pews on Sunday morning! As author Rick Atchley points out in The Sinai Summit, "I don't have to physically end your life to harbor in my heart the attitudes that foster all of the killings that are going on in the world" (p 121).
"Whoever hates his brother is a murderer" John insists in stark terms that won't go away (1 John 3:15). We should be concerned about the murderers on the streets of the world from Nashville, Tennessee to Baghdad, Iraq. But we should also be concerned anytime people harbor anger, hatred, hostility, and resentment in their hearts. These are the inward emotions and attitudes of which murder is simply the outward expression. When human beings harbor them in their hearts, there are murderers in our midst.