There’s been a lot of hatred lately.
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” – Proverbs 10:12 (NIV)
South African students have been protesting the circumstances of today as the consequence of hatreds past and present. The kids watched an episode of Seventh Heaven that included bullying and the Holocaust. I spent a good part of today reading about South Africa’s bush wars in Angola and Namibia for a story about a people group that was kicked out of those countries for siding against those who won.
Tonight, we shared dinner with the Northern Irish team here working on the mission house we rent; several told personal stories of the Troubles there in the 1980s. One woman told of looking in the back of a Ford Escort on her street and seeing a box under a rug, hearing the ticking, failing to comprehend, and walking on, leading one child and pregnant with another. An hour later, a policeman neighbour also saw it, smelled the homemade explosives, and alerted everyone to evacuate – just five minutes before it destroyed every house there.
Does it matter what the politics were that day? Does it matter what justification the terrorists thought they had, what hatred they’d suffered, what religious or ethnic or socioeconomic differences separated them? Did they matter in Oklahoma City, Colombine, New York, or Auschwitz?
There’s been a lot of hatred from the US news, too. Seemingly more than any other year I can remember, this presidential race has thrived on hatred. Long-simmering hatred of the other political party and its members, especially of long-controversial politician Hillary Clinton (and by her supporters of those who hate her). Newer but equally fervent hatred of Donald Trump (and by his supporters of those who hate him). The inexcusable being justified or ignored in people’s own candidates because of their hatred of the other. Fear being used to excuse and justify hatred.
Many are arguing, essentially, If we don’t hate that dangerous candidate and convince others to hate, then we’ll lose everything; hate is the only thing that can save us.
Hatred never saves. Hatred destroys. It seeks to destroy the object and sometimes does; it always destroys the hater.
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” – 1 John 2:9-11 (NIV)
Our response to hate often depends on how close we got to it and whether it was aimed at us, at those like us, or those we dislike, but it also depends on our hearts and the attitudes we have chosen to cultivate. Too often, we react in kind rather than kindness, hating rather than forgiving, settling into our prejudices and biases rather than recognising a reason and reminder to overcome them. We hate ourselves into the same lowness we hate in those who wrong us, and we comfort ourselves that we’re not like them, that we’re justified, that we’re right, that we’re better.
Christ calls us to be better than that. And if He calls us to, then He will be faithful in enabling us.
- that hatred would wither in the light of God’s love
- that the US would heal from the damage inflicted by this election and resolve underlying issues fairly, lovingly, and justly.
- that South Africa would likewise see peaceful, effective, constructive solutions to its issues.
- that Christians of all varieties and opinions would come together as the body of Christ and work for His kingdom rather than their own agendas
- that those who do continue to hate would be thwarted in every attempt to harm or wrong others
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35 (NIV)
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” – Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)
“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NIV)