Great. Really jumping in, aren’t we, Paul?
Day one in our laundry list of impossible (in the flesh) traits of a “True” Christian was “let your love be genuine.” Ah, a good message. Challenging. Convicting. But in comparison to “hate evil”…warm fuzzies.
Two VERY strong words. Are you with me on that? I mean, hatred doesn’t leave much room for anything other than, well, hatred. And because of pop culture I think we all feel like hatred is out of place in our society. To hate anything…really hate it, well, it’s just a bit, how do you say…uh, hateful?
Elie Weisel, Jewish survivor of Nazi Germany, said it this way:
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
In fact, true love begets hate. If we truly love anything, we hate it’s opposite. If I absolutely love freedom, I hate slavery. I hate communism. I hate power hungry abusers that manipulate and control people with fear. If I love mercy, I hate unforgiveness. If I love justice, I hate injustice.
This only applies with the direct polar opposite of the thing I love. For example, if I love dogs, that doesn’t mean that I hate cats. Cats are animals that are different than dogs, and they don’t always get along, but cats are not the antithesis of dogs. Same goes for music. If I love classical, I don’t automatically hate heavy metal. I may-but in both of these examples I would say it would not be impossible to love both cats and dogs, both classical and heavy metal. You might just have a broad spectrum of taste.
But you can’t love freedom and love slavery at the CORE of what each of those things represent. You can’t love mercy but hate forgiveness. You can’t both love justice and hate injustice.
To hate it you gotta know what the heck it is. I don’t have four hours to define it and neither do you. So for the purpose of this post, I’m going to say evil is what put Jesus on the cross. Sin. One sin would have been enough, but it wasn’t just one sin. It was lots and lots of sin. My sin. Your sin. Our sin. In the plural. Here’s a good list from Romans 1:29-31.
“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, conceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
So I claim to love Jesus.
Can I do anything less than hate evil and still call myself a true Christian?
But do I hate it? Do you hate it? Do we hate the things that put Jesus on the cross? The parts of our flesh that He died a real death for so that they could be put to death for real in us? Does our sin break our hearts like it broke His back? Does the evil inside of us pierce our souls like it pierced his hands? Does the depth of our depravity and the depth of our sin cause us to breath deep like it caused him to breath Hist last?
You don’t have to believe in Jesus hate the very things He hated. In fact, a lot of people who would not call themselves Christians hate death and the effects of sin: injustice, inequality, murder, rape, malice, envy, strife, pain, suffering…the list goes on and on. These are the very things He died to someday completely eradicate.
Evil is real. It’s in this world. Read any newspaper, turn on any evening report, talk to any human being.
And we can’t be on the fence.
You can love evil.
You can claim to be indifferent (love’s opposite).
Or you can proactively, unashamedly, unswervingly hate evil.
According to Paul, if you’re a “true” Christian, it’s the latter.
“Oh you who love the Lord, hate evil!”
If you’re not a Christian but hate evil, I’d like to propose that perhaps you and Jesus have more in common than you realized.
In closing, I’d like to make this important caveat:
Hate evil. Not people made in God’s image that, in blindness and rebellion, are doing evil things. Hate the sin, love the sinner. I think that the hate that Paul is talking about doesn’t elicit a hateful reaction. Hating evil results in brokenness, in service, in self-sacrifice and in faithful prayer for those doing evil, ravaged by the wake of evil, or captive to evil deception.
Personally and practically for me this means hating the sin in my own life. Putting my flesh to death every time it tries to rear it’s ugly head with anger, pride, or envy. It means praying for friends and family who are suffering because of the effects of sin.
Bottom line is, if I hate it, I’ll kill it. If you hate it, you’ll kill it. If we hate it together with Jesus, we’ll conquer it. Evil is conquered by love. Every time. Starting with His love set in motion on the cross and imparted to our love, lived out each day.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
-I Corinthians 13:7-8a
A link to other posts in this series can be found on the menu to the right!