There is a German word, “schadenfreude,” that means to derive pleasure from the suffering of others. The closest English word would probably be gloating, but that doesn’t imply the intense feeling of joy that comes from savoring the pain and suffering of others. I am embarrassed to admit that in my past that German word described me on more than one occasion. It is easy to be quietly pleased that things didn’t work out for one of your family, or friends, or coworkers, but that doesn’t excuse it. In fact, there are times when you or I have actually had a hand in the problems that affected others. This is so far from what Jesus lived for and taught. I’m sure there were leaders of the church and Romans who derived great pleasure from Christ’s suffering. If you have seen “The Passion of the Christ” I don’t see how you could even begin to be happy about what they did to Him. Yet, we find ourselves doing it over and over again. We use war metaphors all the time saying that we or he or she won, beat, triumphed over, massacred, or, well you pick the term. The press uses it all the time to describe debates, elections, sporting events, interactions between candidates, almost anything and it makes us less sensitive to the hurt it causes. Can you imagine any way that Jesus would be in favor of our having these emotions or inciting hate? Where did He ever say anything except to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love each other as He loved us, to be like the Good Samaritan, to show our love through our actions. One of my favorite Christian songs is “They will know we are Christians by our love.” But we get angry and act without thinking sometimes and nothing good comes from that. Here’s a simple story:
A man was polishing his new car; his four-year-old daughter picked up a stone and scratched on the side of the car. In anger, the furious father took his child’s hand and hit it many times, not realizing he was using a wrench. At the hospital, the child lost all his fingers due to multiple fractures. When the child saw her father, with painful eyes she asked ‘Dad when will my fingers grow back?’ The man was so hurt and speechless. He went back to the car and kicked it many times. Devastated by his own actions, sitting in front of the car he looked at the scratches, His daughter had written ‘LOVE YOU DAD’.
Have we started to love things more than our own children? What are the messages this is sending about our relationship with Christ? Will people know we are Christians, or just angry people who go to church? I don’t know about you, but I believe there will be a judgement day. I live my life with that always in the back of my mind. Maybe you should, too. Just sayin’ is all. Do be kind.