Love and Hate

Ecclesiastes 3:8
A time to love and a time to hate.

I grew up in a world that had pretty definite feelings about love and hate. Although I was never explicitly taught this, everything I had learned, seen, and heard pushed me to the idea that love is always good and that hate is always bad.

God is the ultimate good, He is perfect, He is who we are striving to imitate. 1 John 4:8 says “Whoever does not love God does not know God, because God is love.” If God is Love, and God is always good, then Love must always be good. Right?

And on the other side of the coin is hate. 1 John 3:15 says “anyone who hates his brother is a murderer,” and we know from the 10 commandments that murder is bad. So this means hate must be bad.

The idea that love is good and hate is bad was further reinforced by how I was taught to treat others, and what words I was allowed to use growing up. Hate was almost a curse word. My favorite line was “Now, don’t say hate, hate is such a strong word. Just say you strongly dislike it.” Don’t get me wrong, hate is a strong word, but maybe it isn’t always a bad word.

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart the devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up conflict among brothers.

It was verses like these that began to breakdown my love-over-hate theology. If love is always good then all types of love should be good. If hate is always bad then God shouldn’t hate things. But the verses above show us that this isn’t the case. Love can be bad and hate can be good.

Hate

One of the reasons it is easy for us to view hate as bad is because hate is a destructive force. It breaks down everything around it. Normally, when we experience hate in our lives it is breaking the social relationships around us. We label it racism and sexism. We watch it tear families, governments, and nations apart. It ruins friendships and marriages. It’s like a rabid wolf that goes straight for the throat.

Please don’t believe that I speak from a place of ignorance. I have broken relationships with my hatred and I have been broken by the hatred of others. Although maybe not as deeply as some, I have seen the wake of destruction that hate can leave. And because of this I clung to the teaching of my youth, that hatred should be avoided at all cost.

But trying to remove hatred from my life left me confused and empty in some places. I came across situations where hatred seemed the only response and anything short of hate felt wrong. So I was forced to look for a way to redeem hate. The journey began with the understanding that there are some things that are never ok to hate.

Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus makes it very clear that love must always be felt in relation to God. Hate has no place in our relationship with Him. God is the creator of all things. He created us and gave us life. He never stops pouring out His love to us. Our response to Him should be love. We do not want to use the destructive nature of hate against God because we want to continue to build up our relationship with Him.

Jesus also makes it very clear that love must always be felt in direct relation to our fellow humans. As humans, we have been created in the image of God; part of who we are mirrors the divine. Thus, to hate a fellow human being is to hate that part of God.

Hating God and hating people is bad because it destroys the beautiful relationships that God created us to experience. But what if there were bad relationships that need to be broken?

Psalms 45:7a
You [God] love righteousness and hate wickedness

Proverbs 13:5a
The righteous hate what is false

Jude 1:22-23
Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

There are things in this world that hinder the Kingdom of God. There are governments and corporations that take advantage of the poor and plunge the weak into oppression. There are feelings of racism and sexism that manifest into abusive systems. There are feelings of indifference towards those that lack food and shelter.

Things like these oppose God and fight against His Kingdom. They separate us from God and they separate us from each other. It is these things that we should hate. These ideologies and systems that create oppression and injustices need to be torn down so that the Kingdom of God can flow in.

Anything less than a hatred for this corruption will be ineffective. The purpose of hate is to inspire and motivate us to remove and fix what is wrong in the world. The proper display of righteous hatred will break down barriers that stop people from experiencing God.

Love

If hate is a destructive force, then love is a creative force. That is one of the most powerful things about love – it builds.

Colossians 1:15-16
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Look again at those last few words. “All things have been created through him and for him.” The Father’s overflowing love for the Son was the basis of creation. We were created out of love. Love brings forth, inspires, and motives the act of creation.

The most common human creation that love inspires is relationships. Love is what builds the relationships between us and God and between us and other people. It helps rebuild the relationships that were broken by sin and improper hatred.

Our love for God inspires our love for other people. Our love for other people inspires us to create systems that allow people to flourish.

A doctor’s love for people inspires him to heal them. A lawyer’s love for people inspires him to fight for their justice. A police officer’s love of people inspires him to protect them. Loving God and loving other people is what inspires us to create a world that takes care of everyone.

But loving the wrong things builds the wrong type of relationships. Let us revisit our verse from above.

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

The love of money creates hospital systems where the poor cannot receive the help they need. The love of money creates lawyers who protect companies who have taken advantage of people. The love of money creates police officers who look the other way. When we love parts of creation more than we love God, or even more than we love other people, we begin to build the wrong types of relationships.

The key to understanding how to love and how to hate is to place them in perspective of the Kingdom of God. If creating or destroying leads to justice and order and other things of God, it is good. If creating or destroying leads to injustice and disorder and things that oppose God, it is bad. When we love and hate the right things, we are living in a way that brings forth the Kingdom of God.

Hate

Waves of hatred crash against my soul
Waves of hatred crash against my heart

Advantage is taken of the oppressed
Advantage is taken of the needy
The sick are preyed upon
The poor are stomped upon

Against these things my hatred rages
Against these things my hatred battles

Love

Little boy in a sandbox
As innocent as can be

Little boy in a sandbox
You have no evil to flee

Little boy in a sandbox
Experienced love from all

Little boy in a sandbox
Built castles with walls so tall

Little boy in a sandbox
Creating a world of peace

Little boy in a sandbox
Shows love that will never cease

Please comment with any thoughts, ideas, or questions! I would love to hear what you think!

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