I have had a quiet month. Well, quiet in writing, but loud in life. Every June, I stay busy at work as we welcome kids in for our Vacation Bible School. The weeks leading into, during, and after are full and exhausting. It is only now that I am catching my breath and gathering my thoughts.
It is those thoughts I write about now.
I was watching a documentary recently that gave us the background and survival of a handful of women who endured the hate, cruelty, and unbelievable evil of Auschwitz. My heart hurts as I hear their stories and see the historical photographs of the bodies of those who did not survive. Hate dehumanizes life. It did when Hitler climbed his way up as a leader of a sick and demented collaboration of death, and it does today among the masses. Yet, people of today would not admit any comparison between the two times. They would not agree that their hate is no different from the hate of Adolf Hitler. The last I looked, levels to hate do not exist. Hate is hate. One may kill others physically, but often the other kills emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. If you think that painful death is less, you are wrong.
It is written in 1 John 3:15 whoever hates is a murderer. It is the act of hating that is sin. Sin separates us from God, and in verse 14, it says whoever does not love abides in death. These two verses are powerful to the concept of hate.
1 John 3: 14-15 (ESV)
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.English Standard Version
The consequence of hating one another is great. Are we walking around attempting to justify our hate by referring to scripture? Even worse is the denial of hate by Christians. The way we treat others is indicative of our heart, where love or hate exists. The words we spew are either in love and uplifting or hateful and demeaning. Our words are a representation of our heart, and our heart is where Jesus lives.
Today, hate slices through peace faster than in any other time in history. Social media is filled with love, encouragement, and kindness, unfortunately, louder than those noble displays is the hatred coming out daily. Mistakenly labeled as ‘debate’ or ‘opinion’, hate runs rampant and unchained in the fingertips of others.
The rush people get from taking part in these useless screened debates reminds me of young kids being bullies on a playground. They loved that attention and would say or do anything to get it. Now we add in anonymity to the mix, and those quiet kids from the playground who were once the victims, learned well and become victimizers themselves. However, catch them on the street and their quiet playground self is who you actually meet. It is a game Satan loves, the more we hate one another, the happier he is.
The lie in these cycles is that you love something, usually your beliefs, so passionately, that you are right in the perpetual arguing you take part in for your ‘side’, ‘right’, ‘opinion’, and yes, even your ‘faith’. I understand true debate, and this is not what I am talking about here. We have moved beyond debate into a desperate attempt at acknowledgment for being correct. Standing for something you believe in while being hateful is not standing at all. Using demeaning words to lift yourself while tearing down another, is cowardly. I thought so on the playground, and I say so today. We call abuse what it is between a husband and wife or parent and child, but we have been slow to call abuse what it is in the way we talk to and treat one another.
Hitler began his tyrannical pursuit with words. He captivated his audience with clever speeches and rehearsed propaganda. His passion for what he believed turned him into a monster. He is known for being evil and the worst human of the 20th century. He murdered millions for his own selfish desires. He hated someone for being who they were, for their religious beliefs, for their existence. I see that same hate every single day, whether you care to admit it or not.
We have a moral obligation to be better. Recognize your hostility in situations you do not agree with. Take responsibility for the way you talk to and treat others- live in person or on a screen. Do not be abusive or demeaning in your interactions. Stop the cycle of hate we have watched escalate.
If you want to hate something, hate HATE. Be kind and compassionate. Following Jesus is not an open invitation to hate those who think different, look different, or live different than you do. Hitler knew what he was doing in his hate and managed to convince many to stand with him. I fear people today have no understanding of how effective words are in murdering the spirit of others. Their intentional push to further their personal agenda through hateful rhetoric, is a push for others to agree with you, ‘like’ or ‘share’ your words, and a quick way for Satan to spread his hate.
Jesus taught us to hate everything of this world- only to follow Him completely. In following our Savior with our entire being, we will learn how to fully love this world.