Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Different Kind of Hate

Usually, when people use the word "hate" in our culture, they think of "hate" as an active, angry thing. Saying "I hate that!" often gets the response of, "Well, 'hate' is a strong word."

Certainly, the Bible uses "hate" in this sense. To give just one of many possible examples:

But if anyone hates his neighbor, lies in wait for him, rises against him and strikes him mortally, so that he dies... (Deut 19:11a NKJV)

I would like to suggest that there is another way in which the Bible also presents hate. "Hatred" is often expressed through separating from and disregarding someone.

Notice how Jesus corrects the commonly held assumption that we are to 'love our neighbor and hate our enemy' (Matt 5:43ff.). He concludes that section with the statement:

And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt 5:47 NIV 1984)

One indication of love contra hatred is greeting others: civilly and cordially acknowledging them.

We see the opposite in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite-- those who fail to love the mugging victim-- cross to the other side of the road to avoid the man who is in distress. By ignoring him, they are expressing the opposite of love: i.e., hatred.

Ultimately, one way in which the Lord will express His hatred for the wicked is through disregarding them and separating from them; see Jesus' words near the end of the Sermon on the Mount: "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!" (NIV 1984).

"Hatred" as separation and disregard informs the way that Christians are to hate rather than love the world (see 1 John 2:15). Christians are not to express hatred of sexual immorality (to give one example) through blowing up brothels or taking vengeance upon adulterers; instead we are to "flee from sexual immorality" (1 Cor 6:18) and to refuse to associate with nominal "Christians" who are engaged in lifestyles marked by sexual immorality (1 Cor 5:9-11).

"Hatred" as separation and disregard also informs the way that Christians are to express the love of Christ in the world. Note again Jesus' words about "greeting" others. Now, think of that one guy at work (or even at church): that guy that just rubs you the wrong way, that guy that makes you cringe every time he speaks. You would never say, "I hate that guy," you would never plot to cut his brakes, etc. But you do go out of your way to avoid him, rather than greet him. You may even say, "Well, I've got to love him, but I don't have to like him." Brothers and sisters: when we make the choice to separate from others, when we disregard them, this is often a form of hatred. We must overcome this hatred through a self-sacrificial love for others; a love that goes out of its way to act in a friendly, winsome manner toward others, regardless of whether the people that we warmly and sincerely "greet" seem lovely to us or whether they ever act in a similarly loving manner to us. Because this is what our Lord did: He loved the unlovely; He sought out and saved His enemies.

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