Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hatred or Love

Ti.3:1-7 - Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

What is hate? Far too often we define hate as what white supremacy groups practice, or the protests by the Westboro Baptist Church. We like to view hatred as those who dislike Blacks or Jews or even gays. And with that kind of constricted definition we can insulate ourselves from being hateful. I mean we would never use a racial slur or an anti-Semitic term.
But there is a visceral hatred being practiced and openly displayed in thousands of evangelical churches. And this kind of hatred hides behind pillars of morality and the suggestion that the culture is decaying. This type of hatred identifies its objects with man made terms such as liberal, socialist, and an array of other labels. Hatred of this nature is not only tolerated among millions of professing believers, it is embraced.
This hatred is at the heart of American politics, and its Siamese twin is self righteousness. Many who pledge allegiance to the flag and proudly tout the founding fathers and passionately embrace the Declaration of Independence, also dislike the way this democracy now operates. They like the freedom they enjoy but they dislike the freedom others employ. They desire their own pursuit of happiness but desire to restrict the pursuit of happiness by others.
The work of Christ and the Kingdom of God must never be intertwined with the fallen methods of improving the culture. In fact, most people vote and support those who they deem more likely to improve their own earthly situation. But politics, and democracy in general, is filled with self interest and a serious brand of competition that leads to aggression toward those who are opposed to your views. And as we have seen lately, this kind of hatred and verbal assaults are even practiced among those who are supposed to be on the same side.
The entire specter of politics brings out the very worst in people and compromises the very teachings that believers say they espouse. Believers will watch television and allow certain fallen feelings to be aroused in their hearts when they hear liberal or conservative politicians. And many believers will talk among themselves about this one or that one. They will even use derogatory language and in some cases out and out lies. That, my friends, is a clandestine form of hatred.
Hatred is so antithetical to the gospel and to the redemptive plan of God. And we as believing followers of the Lord Jesus are not just commanded not to hate, but we are called to love our enemies. And as challenging as that is, it is impossible if we do not even consider it a command. Our natural hearts are not programmed to love, much less love our enemies. And most of these so called “enemies” are creations of a fallen system which has captured the hearts and minds of those who claim to live in another kingdom. Hatred feels good to the flesh and strengthens and reinforces ties between those who hate the same targets. There is no such thing as soft hatred; it is all hatred.
The two greatest commandments cannot be separated. Loving God without loving sinners is a fraud. Yes, there is such a thing as loving people without loving God. That is humanism. But if we love God, and if we are aware of what took place on the cross, then we must love sinners. And when the Calvinists claim God hates the non-elect they are liars. God is love, and the mystery of that love is profound. We do not have the luxury to hate others while still claiming to represent Christ. And if God does hate the non-elect, then the Westboro Baptist Church is a bold witness for Christ.
I exhort all of us to seek out the love of God in our hearts.
Jude 21 - Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.


David said...

Well said Rick,
If we being aware of our sin sickness cannot look on those who don't yet know the Physician with compassion, what kind of ambassadors can we be? We can't represent the heavenly government and be involved in a fallen earthly one at the same time. I think scripture calls that being double minded.
Thank you,

corriee said...

I did not know God hated the
non-elect...or at least I had not
thought of them like that.
I think pride, envy and jealously
hide in hate. They can be so close
in feelings and yet a Christian can
wrap all of those into a pretense of 'Holy and Righteousness'...while all the while being evil. It is well for us to examine ourselves daily and ask the Lord to show us our sins, for some we don't recognize ourselves.