I hate Joe Biden.
Or, I hate Donald Trump.
How about, I hate Tom Brady. I hate the Chicago Bears. I hate Fox News. I hate bad umpiring. I hate putting pineapple on pizza. I hate traffic jams.
We throw the word hate around almost as much as the word love. We use the same word for profoundly different relationships: I love my wife, I love my dog, I love Spotted Cow. One word, but obviously not the same meaning. I hope.
For some of us, maybe we actually have more hates than loves. In some cases, I don’t think that word means what you think it means. In others, it means more.
But how do you define hate? For that matter, how do you define love? This may be another case where Justice Potter Stewart’s words in 1964 regarding pornography apply: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced...but I know it when I see it." We all seem to know it when we see it. And when we feel it.
Hate is about judgment. A lot of it. When we hate, we’ve completed the entire legal process in our own hearts and/or minds (that and/or is intentional, which I’ll get to in a moment) by which we have accused, tried, convicted, sentenced and condemned the evildoer. Of course, even the label evildoer is our own design, based on our code of conduct, which that dumb #$%& has violated. Repeatedly, or maybe just once. Inexcusably, even if he tries to explain his dumb #$%&ery. Unforgivably. I, my own little lord,
If it’s genuine hate, it intermingles between heart and mind in such a way that it contaminates both. As righteous as we are, the role of executioner – even if only in thoughts or words – becomes a consuming fire, heated seven times over normal, leaving only ashes behind. Not the evil one’s ashes, mind you. Our own. Our attitude. Our relationships. Our love. Even our faith, reduced to dust.
Maybe it’s not full-throated hatred, though. I believe there is sports hate: I don’t actually want Tom Brady to burn in hell, I just dislike what he’s done to my teams and want him to lose every game for the rest of his life. There’s food hate (coconut), music hate (rap), driver hate (Illinois), and especially political hate…
Uh oh. #$%& just got real, didn’t it?
This is where I’m seeing and hearing hate the most these days. Do we really mean that? Is that what’s brewing in our hearts, or is this just a moment on the mind?
I not only hate Biden, I hate everyone who voted for him. When I hate Trump, I’m also hating everyone who supports him. I hate you if you’re pro-life. I hate you if you’re pro-choice. All Democrats are evil. All Republicans are stupid.
Have you noticed that dichotomy? If you disagree with me, or if your worldview leads you to see things another way, you are either stupid or evil. So which one is it? It must be one or the other, because my opinion is the only valid one, and my worldview is the only righteous one.
If this sounds like you, it’s not because I’m making this up to prove a point. It’s because you’ve shared it online. Every single word. Apparently we shouldn’t be friends, or even family, because…politics.
We aren’t allowed to simply disagree anymore, nor can we discuss our disagreements peacefully and respectfully, in hope that rational dialogue may increase understanding. Or at least we can agree to disagree. No: we go straight to hate.
We have given ourselves over to the deceptions and divisions of the devil, the world and our own sinful selves that dictate absolute conquest and destruction of all enemies, along with their philosophy, belief systems, associations, family, friends, dogs and pet hamsters. Satan’s favorite strategy: divide and conquer. Momentary separation heading toward permanent division. We judge. We condemn. We hate.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:20-21). As Martin Luther King said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Leave the judging to God. He is the only one who possesses the perfect and righteous judgment to “hate the evildoer” (Psalm 5:5), and then pour out mercy and grace in such abundance that the evil is replaced with holiness. The Good News is that Jesus loves us despite our repeated sins, our inexcusable attitudes and our unforgivable failures. His blood – the calling card of His unconditional love – covers over a multitude of hates.
So listen to Him and form your thoughts and beliefs around His Word, as your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. And treat people accordingly, as He does.
Jesus also says to love your enemies. Even Tom Brady.
Oh, Lord, I’m gonna need help with this…
Pastor Steve Kline was installed as Senior Pastor at SHLC on May 25, 2014, after serving 12 years as Senior Pastor at Zion in Wayside, WI. He was ordained in 1992 and previously served congregations in Pulaski and Hales Corners.