FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. (BP) — America lost a historic figure with the passing of Congressman John Lewis recently. Whether or not you agreed with his positions on political or moral issues, you can admire his courage, sacrifice, and tenacity to address racial inequality.
In these days of peaceful protests turning violent and legitimate anger expressed through destruction of property, Lewis chose a nonviolent approach to address the need for change.
He said, “At a very early stage of the movement, I accepted the teaching of Jesus, the way of love, the way of nonviolence, the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. The idea of hate is too heavy a burden to bear. … I know love is a better way.”
Lewis and his contemporaries chose love over hate. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
While Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 13:34, 35), Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything — “a time to love, a time to hate” (3:8). When is it appropriate to hate?
Hate what God hates
God hates it when anything or anyone comes between us and Him. He demands ultimate loyalty. God hates when we grow slack in our devotion to Him.
God also hates sin because God commands us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16), and sin stymies our pursuit of holy living. Proverbs 6:17-19 lists seven things God hates: “A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among the brethren.”
Hate behavior, but not people
Every person is someone created in the image of God, a person with whom God pursues a love relationship whether he or she realizes God’s pursuit or not. We can detest the behavior or the consequences of a person’s bad decisions while not hating the person.
1 John 4:20 reads, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
Hate the imperfections of this world
I’ve never heard anyone say, “I love cancer.” Cancer, dementia and other diseases come from living in a fallen world.
A friend who survived a brutal COVID-19 battle wrote these powerful words about her experience:
“Dear Covid, No one likes you. No one likes how you’ve wreaked havoc on people’s lives. No one likes that you’ve changed lives, taken lives, or that your effects seem to go on … and on … and on! I’m tired of you!
“I hate that my already-not-so-great-lung-function is decreased even more for an unknown amount of time …
“I hate that those of us who dealt with you months ago … still are! I hate what you’ve done to so many people. I hate that you’ve changed lives in such a negative way, made people take the hate that belongs solely on you and Satan and turned them against one another. …”
I’m pretty sure God understands when we hate COVID-19. Thankfully, one day, the curse will be broken, and we will no longer live in a fallen world.
David Chancey is pastor of McDonough Road Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga. This article first appeared in The Christian Index.