Every ethnicity and every culture has an issue with hate. This hate runs deep, as deep as the radical corruption of sin that courses through each human being. We see the first example of hatred soon after the fall of humanity into sin. Cain was angry and took out his anger by killing his brother Abel in Genesis 4. Since that day humanity has hated and killed one another for a variety of reasons.
The hatred of a fellow human being, created in the image of God, is a detestable sin in and of itself. But, to hate this fellow human being, based upon a specific aspect of how he was created, whether it’s the pigmentation of the skin or anything else, is at the very base of this detestable sin of hating one’s fellow human being.
Truly, no Christian would affirm such hate, yet, many similar assumptions have been made regarding other issues like abortion, homosexuality, and ecumenicalism. Christianity should come to the forefront and denounce such hate as ungodly, unbiblical, satanic, and demonic. These are harsh words, but what other words should we use for such an abhorrent view? To murder a baby in the womb, because it is inconvenient, is demonic, and it is just as demonic to murder a person solely because of a different pigmentation of the skin.
As evil as this hatred of another human being is, our response to evil must be guided by the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of man. Man’s natural response to hatred is hatred in return. Jesus affirmed this natural response, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” Matthew 5:43 Our natural bent is to hate our enemies. And why not? Don’t they hate us? Don’t they want to destroy us? Don’t they mistreat us? Listen though to what Jesus said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:44-45
Paul wrote to the persecuted church, people whose freedom was being taken away, people whose family and property were being ripped from them, people whose lives were being destroyed in the coliseum and in the streets, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” – Romans 12:14
He continued, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:19-21
Christians do not overcome hatred with hatred. We overcome hatred with the love of Christ evidenced in and through us. We still call sin, sin. We don’t deny what is evil when we overcome evil with good. Evil is not minimized, instead we affirm that good is greater, the love of Christ is greater, and the gospel is greater. We believe that repentance is possible, reconciliation is possible, and a unity in Christ is possible even for the most evil among us. Christians know this because we too were once part of the most evil among us. As Paul wrote, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” – Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” – Colossians 1:21-22
Every Christian was brought out of their hatred and into the marvelous light of the love of Jesus Christ by the glorious reconciliation of his death and by the gracious gift of faith in the gospel. We, in turn, should understand showing love to an enemy because we were the enemy and Jesus showed his love to us.
So, we should respond to hate with love. We should not condone violence against those who hate, nor should we speak or write words dripping with poisonous hatred. We should not return evil with evil. Instead we should follow the advice of James, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” – James 1:19-21
To begin to solve a culture of hate, we must start by slowing down our response. Submitting our desire to respond in anger to our Lord Jesus Christ and instead pursue his righteous ways. We must recognize our own hate and put it away, repent of it, and turn to Jesus. Follow him into love. This is the wisdom of God, living out the Word of God instead of our natural desires.
Dear Christians, followers of Jesus, I beg of you, overcome evil with good. Let us be known by our love that overcomes the hatred of the world.