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Monday, April 20, 2009

Love & Hate

Hate and love have become overused words in today's society. They really are tantamount to cliches - tossed carelessly at objects, situations and of course, people. The cause use of such words as love and hate have emptied them of their meaning. We no longer can comprehend either love or hate.

The Bible tells us emphatically that God hates sin - but loves us.

Can any of us really even begin to fathom what it means that God hates sin? Let's think about that. He hates sin so much that He is willing to destroy the world and all of humanity to get rid of it. He hates sin so much that He is willing to destroy all that He created in order to get rid of it. He hates sin so much that He is willing to sacrifice His most precious love in order to defeat it. Who among us has ever known such a hate as this?

So God loves us. For most of us that concept is one of the most difficult to embrace. (I know it was for me.) I spent most of my life believing that I was not lovable ... even by God. It took quite a bit of work for God to convince me that He really does love me. And to be honest, I am still learning exactly what that means. God's love for me is a truth I now acknowledge. But I have no idea how I could ever explain it to anyone. He loves me so much that He is willing to reach into the pit of hell to pull me out. And here's one for you - He loves me so much that He is willing to forgive me - of absolutely everything I've ever done or ever will do!

The irony is that for humans, it is impossible to love someone without getting something back. Consider that we love our children. But they give us something back. We love our pets - and they give us something back. In fact, no matter who or what we love in our humanity, we get something back. But God's love is only one sided. There is nothing we can give to God. And yet His love is stronger than any love humanity has ever known. Who among us could ever comprehend love such as that?

So what does it mean when someone says, "I hate to wait." or "I love ice cream." How should we understand such contexts of hate or love - against a back drop of hate and love in God's eyes? What does it mean when a pop singer exclaims how much they love their adoring fans? Obviously, these tend to be rhetorical questions for which there are no satisfying answers.

The simple answer is that we are like stupid sheep and have no concept of what love and hate really are. But we sling those words around as if they meant something. I read in Romans 5 not long ago that those who aren't Christ-followers are considered to be "enemies of God." (That was a sobering reality!)

A woman (named Mary Hawkins) has been quoted as having said, "The opposite of love is not hate; it is apathy." I think she may be right. You see, hate implies that you care enough to think about a person. You mull things over in your mind. Even if you disapprove of them, there is some sort of attraction there. (Taming of the Shrew anyone?) But apathy means no thoughts, nothingness, no energy devoted to that individual whatsoever. Apathy towards someone would be worse than hatred; it would mean a cold heart. Apathy is truer rejection then hate could ever hope to be.

So what then do we do with love and hate? Perhaps, my friends, we would do well to look at God's definitions of love and hate. We should maybe consider what Jesus has to say about being lukewarm ... toward Him or toward others. It is clear that humans, and especially Christians, have some stepping up to the plate to do here.

We are missing the mark in our love. And maybe even more importantly, we are missing the mark on hatred as well.

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