Tis the season to hate?
Sometimes it seems that way.
Haters hated on Johnny Football’s first start. Haters hated on practically everything from every angle in Ferguson, MO. Haters hated on the recent election results; Haters hate on the Christmas holiday; Haters hate on churches that do not meet their expectations; Haters hate. That is what they do.
Jesus told us so.
Not often do all four of the gospel accounts share the exact same information in almost the exact same way (this is largely due to the fact that John’s gospel is written from a different perspective than the others), but on this topic they all have Jesus saying basically the same thing to his disciples.
It goes something like this: “Get ready. The world hated me and they are going to hate you too.”
(For the exact statements read Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17; and John 15:18 along with the surrounding context.)
So from Jesus–haters are going to hate.
They are not going to dialogue; reason; discuss; contemplate; be patient; act lovingly; or extend grace.
They are going to react; rage; accuse; scream “Crucify him! Crucify him!;” throw stones (see Stephen’s story in Acts 6-7); and behave generally in a very angry and aggressive way.
The result is not pretty, nor is it intended to be. “Hate stirs up strife” a wise man said long ago (Proverbs 10:12). Hate is a tool to intimidate and bully–and to spread misery.
Think about hate’s role in the Christmas story. King Herod was a hater. He heard a rumor about a baby who would be king and instead of investigating, he hated. Hating was easier. Lots of innocent babies died as a consequence. Joseph and Mary with their newborn fled to Egypt to escape his hatred.
Hating hurts. The Bible equates it with murder (1 John 3:15). The families who lost their baby boys to Herod’s hate can attest to that.
Hatred originates from the first hater. His purpose according to Christ is to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Hatred accomplishes that quite efficiently. No matter how it is presented or justified–hate is hate and it produces nothing worthwhile.
But there is another way, of course. The rest of Proverbs 10:12? “But love covers all offenses.”
Love has absolutely nothing to do with hate (please read the 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 definition of love).
The counter to haters gonna hate is that lovers gotta love.
This will produce something worthwhile–even if we disagree about sports, politics, race, and religion. It will create an atmosphere of mutual respect where healthy dialogue can occur and real progress can be made on what separates us.
Love seeks redemption; reconciliation; peace and goodwill toward all.
It originates with the first lover. His goal is for every person to experience “life to the full” (the rest of John 10:10). Love can make that happen. Hate cannot.
Haters were jeering at him; spitting on him; whipping him with a cutting lash; They put him on a cross to die. This time he did not escape (he could have). Neither did he hate back. Instead Jesus loved–and it continues to cover all offenses.
Think about this the next time you are tempted to hate; the next time you are prompted to straighten someone out on social media with cutting words; the next time you think someone is attacking something you hold dear; the next time the election; the game; or the decision of church leaders does not go your way.
There are healthy ways to handle all of that. Hate is not one of them.
Yes, there are haters who are going to hate.
But let us be lovers of Christ who will love each other and (uh oh) even our enemies.
It might not be easy surrounded by a culture of hate, but Jesus has our back. Haters gonna hate, but against it, “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Tis the season to spread the love of Christ.