A Radical Response to Hate
We have a lot of hate happening in the world today. We have a lot of hate happening in this country. It’s horrifying. I want to talk about how to respond to hate as a follower of Jesus. The first thing I want to say is that I honestly don’t think I have all the answers. I do however want to contribute to the conversation.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of ‘balance’ lately. In a lot of ways balance is a good thing. Work/life balance. Moderation in what we eat and our physical activity. Balance can be a very healthy thing. However, I’m not sure that we are called to be ‘balanced’ in how we follow after Jesus. As hard as it can sometimes be to follow Jesus, I don’t think we are ever called to do so in a balanced way. The ‘lukewarm’ mentioned in Revelation are a balance of hot and cold. I believe the Bible teaches us that our speech, our finances, our deeds, and even our thoughts are to be fully submitted to God. Even, and perhaps especially, when dealing with evil.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43–48
Responding to evil is a difficult thing to do. As I’m writing this I’m thinking, “this is way easier said than done.” But everything worth doing is easy to say and hard to do.
Let’s keep in mind that the way of Jesus is almost never our natural response. We, in our strength, usually take an approach of escalation. We play a type of ‘rhetorical chicken’ where we continually one up each other and we are justified in doing so because our cause is just. But how you get there is just as important as actually getting there. The end never justifies the means.
You may be thinking, “so you’re suggesting we just do nothing?”
Not at all!
This doesn’t mean we don’t call out hate. This doesn’t mean we sit on our couches and hope things get better. But it could change the way we respond. What does it look like to love hate-filled people? How do we bless those who curse us? Can we pray for those who persecute? I’m not exactly sure what all this looks like fleshed out. But I’m willing to bet it would change the world.