Rejecting Hate

I’m so sick of politics.

I mean, who isn’t? You can’t turn on the radio or the TV without seeing political discussion. You can’t log on to Facebook without seeing everyone post their political opinion, and everyone else arguing with them over that opinion.

I’m so ready to be done with it. But unfortunately, we still have 8 months to go, because everyone decided to jump onboard the crazy train super early this election cycle.

But there’s not much we can do about that now. People are going to be arguing politics until after the election in November. The best I can do is live with it, and learn to respond graciously to those I disagree with.

Because we don’t get a pass on loving people during election years. We don’t get an exemption on the loving people thing just because someone we disagree with might be elected President of the United States.

I don’t think that will come as a surprise to many people. I think Christians recognize that we should love everybody, even politicians we dislike and their supporters we disagree with. I’m just not sure we know how to do that.

Fortunately, the apostle Paul gives us a pretty good idea of what love ought to look like in 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

The passage is popular in weddings, as a reminder to the couple that these are the ways they should seek to love each other in the trials of the marriage. A good marriage ought to be one where both parties strive to embody the the aspects of love that Paul talks about in this passage.

But 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t about romantic love, or at least, not exclusively.

1 Corinthians 13 is about love in general. Yes, as a spouse you should be patient and kind rather than proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. But that’s not exclusive to spouses. That’s love in general. That’s how you should love your friends. That’s how you should love your parents and your kids.

That’s how you should love your enemies.

And while I’m more than happy to accept that this is how I can best love my wife, I don’t do as well with those other groups of people. I’m happy to try and be more patient with my wife. I’m not always patient with people who post about politics on Facebook.

And perhaps that’s a better standard for how we measure love. Not by how we treat the people we like, but by how we interact with the people who annoy us or upset us.

So when it comes to people I disagree with, I don’t get to call it love just because I’m not actively hoping they go to Hell. 1 Corinthians 13 outlines love as being much more involved than that.

Paul says love is patient and kind. So if I look for reasons to get angry every time someone says anything, that’s not love; it’s hatred.

Paul says love is not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude. So when I speak poorly of someone else in an attempt to elevate myself or my own position, that’s not love; it’s hatred.

Paul says that love is not irritable or resentful. So if I will believe anything about a person as long as it’s negative, while rejecting anything positive, that’s not love; it’s hatred.

Pauls says that Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. So when you’re confronted with good evidence that something negative about someone isn’t true, and you choose to keep believing it anyway, that’s not love; it’s hatred.

It’s not Christ-like, and we should reject hatred when we find it in our hearts.

Anybody can love someone they already like. But Jesus calls us to love people that we don’t like, that we have no reason to like, and who continue give us reasons why we shouldn’t ever like them.

We should strive to apply the same principles to loving them as we do to our friends and family.

Which shouldn’t be news to any of us.

1 John 4:20 says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

What John seems to be saying is that if you spew hatred about the politician you dislike, you don’t love God.

That makes me uncomfortable, because I don’t always do a good job of loving the people I disagree with. But John seems pretty clear about it. You can disagree with someone. You can speak truth about them (in loving ways). You don’t have to like everyone you hear about or come in contact with. But it is impossible to love God while assuming the worst about other people. It’s impossible to love God and also cheer for someone to fail. It’s impossible to love God and not also love other people. Even other people you disagree with. Even other people you don’t understand. Even other people you’ve never met.

God’s followers are called to a higher standard of love. One in which we treat everyone with respect and kindness, even if they don’t deserve it. God’s followers are called to patience, even with people whom we see as dangerous.

It won’t be easy. It’s not supposed to be. It won’t always work out in our favor. But God has called us to love people. So we should do the hard work of loving people we don’t want to love.

And maybe if we all worked harder to love the people we dislike and disagreed with, we wouldn’t all be so sick of politics.

 

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