Georgia lost an historic figure with the passing of Congressman John Lewis recently. Whether or not one agreed with his positions on political or moral issues, his courage, sacrifice and tenacity to address racial inequality bring admiration.
In these days of peaceful protests turning violent and legitimate anger expressed through destruction of property, Lewis chose a nonviolent approach to address the need for change.
He said, “At a very early stage of the movement, I accepted the teaching of Jesus, the way of love, the way of nonviolence, the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. The idea of hate is too heavy a burden to bear … I know love is a better way.”
Lewis and his contemporaries chose love over hate. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
While Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13:34, 35), Ecclesiastes shares there is a time for everything, “a time to love, a time to hate (3:8)” When is it appropriate to hate?
When we hate what God hates. God hates when anything or anyone comes between us and Him. He demands ultimate loyalty. God hates when we grow slack in our devotion to Him.
God also hates sin because God commands us to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16), and sin stymies our pursuit of holy living. Proverbs 6:17-19 lists seven things God hates: “A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among the brethren.”
When we hate behavior but not people. Every person is a person created in the image of God, a person with whom God pursues a love relationship whether the person realizes God’s pursuit or not. We can detest the behavior or the consequences of a person’s bad decisions, but not hate the person.
I John 4:20 reads, “If someone says ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
When we hate the imperfections of this world. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I love cancer.” Cancer, dementia and other diseases come from living in a fallen world. A friend who survived a brutal Covid-19 battle wrote these powerful words about her experience:
“Dear Covid, No one likes you. No one likes how you’ve wreaked havoc on people’s lives. No one likes that you’ve changed lives, taken lives, or that your effects seem to go on … and on … and on! I’m tired of you!
“I hate that my already not so great lung function is decreased even more for an unknown amount of time …
“I hate that those of us who dealt with you months ago … still are! I hate what you’ve done to so many people. I hate that you’ve changed lives in such a negative way! Made people take the hate that belongs solely on you and Satan and turned them against one another.
“But, you know what! Despite it all, I know that my God is in charge! He allows things only for the glory of His Kingdom. He doesn’t want this suffering! Just like He carried me through the tough times of being in the hospital alone, on a ventilator … sedated for days … scared and lonely, He never left my side.
“Now, I wear a mask from the time I arrive at work until I leave, sanitize my hands between every patient interaction, wear gloves when coming in contact with a patient, and come straight home to shower to protect my patients, my family, and myself. If I do go out in public, I wear my mask, carry gloves for pumping gas and throw them away at the station, and keep multiple bottles of hand sanitizer and alcohol in my car and purse. Covid is nothing to joke around with.”
I’m pretty sure God understands when we hate Covid-19 but, thankfully, there’s no Covid in heaven!
[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Join them Sunday at 352 McDonough Road for worship at 9 and 10:55 a.m. Worship online at www.mcdonoughroad.org. Contact Chancey at email@example.com.]