Love and Hate

Jesus summed up religion. They asked him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Every Jewish listener knew full well the importance of “commandments.” Jesus answered them saying, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31. Love is our motivation as disciples of Christ. It is our aim. Paul speaks of love in 1 Corinthians 13 as the highest objective of Christian sanctification saying, “If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2. We are “nothing” without love. John makes it abundantly simple in 1 John 4:4 saying, “The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Peter teaches the churches about love in 1 Peter 4:8 saying, “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
Love is something Christians are to seek in truth. It is part of the truth that Jesus both embodies and distributes. First to God then second to others. Where we get trapped these days is in pleasantries. To pretend to have love without truth is to deny the truth about love. I wrote a letter on this over a decade ago called, “The Freedom and the Fetter” where I discuss more about how a false love binds the Christian whereas a true love frees him.
Satan has highjacked the word “love” in our day on an un-precedented scale. It’s evoked to falsely adorn every form of sexual immorality.

Even abortionists are immediately told that God loves them and are treated like victims. Multiple religions leading to heaven one says? No problem, all you need is to “love” like Jesus and be accepting of everyone. Many Christians operate this way. They’re taught to. And it sure does fill seats. But reader, this isn’t love. This fake love eviscerates love. Neither Jesus nor Paul, John or Peter can be properly studied in the Bible without seeing their confrontational run-ins. At many points they would be called judgmental, mean, rude, bigoted or even un-Christian for what they said or wrote. Yes, even Jesus would be called very un-Christian by many “Christians” today who seem to have only one commandment to obey to, “Just be nice.” One who respects Jesus needs only to read Matthew 23 once to come away knowing that you can both be loving and truly hate evil. Christianity is about warring with evil. Christianity is how God has already defeated evil on Calvary. It looks ahead to how God will one day overcome it all and even death will die. We don’t make peace with evil. We are to hate it with utmost intensity. There is a violent streak in the Faith against one’s sin that purifies and sanctifies and makes us more loving in every way.

Christians should both love what God loves and hate what God hates. It’s the hate part that for many Christians today seems impossible. I’d like to suggest that it’s because the first part is not first. It shouldn’t be hard. Proverbs 8:13a reads, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil…” The Scriptures are full of such passages. So, what can someone filled with love actually hate? How about that which dishonors God? How about that which condemns sinners, or gets in the way of repentance and the Gospel? How about sin? These are the things we hate…if we love God and our neighbors.
A healthy hatred for evil is becoming ever more a mark of orthodoxy.
Let’s seek to be like Jesus. Many things are said of our Lord in Hebrews 1. Under inspiration, its author gives us words from the vantage of God the Father regarding God the Son saying in Hebrews 1:9: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of joy above Your companions.” Jesus both loved righteousness and hated iniquity…more than anyone. He loved and hated perfectly. I won’t waste time citing passages about all the things that God hates. They’re more numerous than passages about what he loves. I just want to challenge you to follow Jesus in this. False pleasantries in the face of sin must be put to death in the way Romans 8:12-17 says that all sin should be.

Love isn’t all we need. Sorry Beatles. We need hate too. Our God was crucified for sin. And what, you’re to make peace with it?! As believers, we don’t hate like the world hates. We hate because we love. Our enemy is the devil. Our goal is reconciliation for others. Healing. Grace. Peace with God and with each other. These are our goals. We preach a crucified and Resurrected Jesus to that end. The Cross itself is God’s display of both love and hate. He hates sin so much that Jesus lived and was crucified for it. We love in light of that or not at all.

Joseph Pittano

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