Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
[1 John 4:8]
I’ve been reading this chapter over and over the past week or so. I don’t want to be controlled by hate–even when people have done evil things to people I love, or even when I don’t agree with someone.
Hate is from Satan. He controls the world through hate. He delights in making us hate each other and view each other as the enemy, when in fact HE is the Enemy that is constantly at work turning us against each other. As a follower of Jesus, no human being should be hated–no matter what they’ve done to you or how much you disagree with them.
Jesus proclaimed a different way. That we are to love everyone, even those we adamantly disagree with. Even those who’ve done us wrong. We must pray for our enemies. We must reach out to those who are different than us. We must speak out for those who have no voice.
He said the world would know us by our love.
I really don’t know what this all means. I’ve had people I know do some horrible things. I have scars on my heart that are still healing. The world is full of hatred. Even the mass shooting that happened at the Washington Navy Yard yesterday is just another reminder that hatred often reigns supreme.
The guest blogger on my blog this month? The friend he talks about in his story, Rebecca, was one of my best friends. And she was destroyed through this oppressive spiritual group (as you’ll see in Part III of his story). I grieve her death every. single. day. I’m constantly fighting sadness and anger (and yes, hatred) over the hatred and control and manipulation that led to her death.
Humanity’s natural tendency is to hate. To hate and to seethe and to be on the warpath against everything and everyone who has failed, wounded, or betrayed them.
And I’m not saying that anger isn’t appropriate. Sometimes, we have to be angry. Sometimes, we do have to have justice in a situation and fight against oppression.
Yet when anger turns to hatred and hardness of heart, then something is wrong. When we turn another person (or groups of people) into a demon. When we see the world through cynical, bitter eyes that cannot see good. When we viciously wish the worst on others in an attempt to make ourselves feel better…
People commit atrocities everyday in an endless cycle of trying to “get back” at others for hurting them. At trying to seek revenge. To make someone, anyone, pay.
Hate corrupts. It turns loving people into vicious monsters. It can turn a gracious heart into a bitter, angry, cynical heart. A heart that cannot believe in good. A heart that shuts humanity out. A heart that could kill or truly hurt others (even innocent others) in an attempt to find rest.
I just don’t want to live in hate. I want to respond in love no matter what has happened.
This is hard.
The God of Love is hard to follow.
[Note: Love does not mean you give someone a free pass to continue abuse, manipulation, or evil. There are people doing atrocious things in this world, and I will always pray for justice. But I will also pray for their souls, I will pray that they will be redeemed. That they, too, can know Christ's love. In doing so, I release my own soul from damaging burdens of bitterness, anger, and being controlled by hatred. Yet I also will fully trust that God does indeed bring justice. He doesn't give a free pass to those who don't repent or continue in evil.]