Can you love someone and wish them harm? Can you love someone and rejoice when they suffer?
I got into a conversation online today about schadenfreude. I said my problem with this is to do with “love your neighbour”, and someone told me that no, the two don’t clash, that enjoying someone’s misfortune doesn’t go against “love your neighbour”.
I’m still reeling from that. It’s just so… how do you even begin to…
But we humans really like pretending that the evil in our hearts isn’t really so bad. We love to find excuses, to rationalise our behaviour and our attitudes, and to limit the scope of God’s command to love each and every person in the whole wide world just as you love yourself.
Because, well, we can’t live up to that standard. None of us can.
So we tell ourselves that it’s not so bad. Look at that other person, who is so evil – I’m not as bad as that person, so the little bits of evil in my heart aren’t so terrible, right…
But Jesus says no, you can’t get away with that. You think you’re not as bad as a murderer because you haven’t actually taken a knife and slit someone’s throat? In God’s eyes you’re guilty when you just get angry with someone and call them a bad name. You think you’re not as bad as an adulterer because you’ve exercised self-restraint and didn’t actually go ahead with it? In God’s eyes you’re guilty if you’ve lusted after someone, no matter if you acted on it or not.
None of us live up to God’s standards.
But that isn’t the problem – it’s just a symptom of the real problem.
When I got into that conversation earlier, about schadenfreude, one person pointed out that it’s often harmless. I said yes, that’s true, but when I look at where in the human heart it comes from, I’m horrified – we have this in us, we have the capacity to delight in someone else’s misfortune! If we truly loved everyone as we love ourselves, we wouldn’t be discussing whether or not it’s ok to feel schadenfreude, because we just wouldn’t ever want to, we wouldn’t even be able to imagine it, we wouldn’t have a word to describe such an evil thing!
Our hearts are messed up. We were created by a perfect, loving God and we were made in his image, but we rebelled and chose to live our own way instead of following God, and the whole of creation is messed up as a result – but the human heart is messed up above all things. We have wickedness built in, and so no matter how hard we try to be good and kind, we fail.
And we make excuses, instead of turning to Jesus, the only one who can really help, the one who made the ultimate sacrifice so that anyone who repents and believes in him can be saved, forgiven by God and given a clean slate, a new start, a new life with God himself helping you to do better, changing you from the inside so that your heart changes, your desires change, you gradually become a better person because the Creator of this world is working on it!
We’re all messed up, and we need to be washed clean – don’t stay in the stink and filth of normal sinful human life, turn to Jesus in repentance and let him cleanse you. He died so that you can have this – all you need to do is accept his free gift to you.
You don’t have to stay as you are.