If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?1 John 4:20 (NLT)
Have you ever heard of the expression, “It’s a love/hate relationship?” If not, the concept is this: You hate the person but can’t help but to love them. I know, it’s a complete contradiction. This is the language and worldview that we’ve created. Yay us!
Those from the southern half of the United States have the ability to take this concept to a whole other level. They can hurl an insult at someone, spewing hatred their direction, and then follow it with this wonderful phrase, “Bless their little heart.” (You have to say it with a southern drawl to understand.) The concept is that they can curse and bless you at the same time. How thoughtful!
The unfortunate reality is that we as Christians are known to be love/haters. We profess to love others, yet seem to spend a great deal of time ripping others apart. Here in the U.S., lines of hatred are drawn depending on our stances on immigration, abortion, sexual identity, liberal, conservative, heritage, and a million other things. When someone from a group which we disagree with fires shots that offend us, we fire right back – responding in-kind, or worse. When they spew hatred, we send it right back at them.
Of course, we can try to rationalize it away by saying that we are simply sharing our opposing points of view. Yet when we look at the language used, when we call others idiots, or morons, or other derogatory terms because they don’t think like we do, it is a personal attack. It is not mere words any more. It certainly isn’t loving.
Here’s the problem. Love and hate cannot coexist. Love is the opposite of hate. God is pure love, there is no hatred in Him. We, as His followers, are called to love as God loves us. This means we cannot hate others. When we do, we move from follower of Jesus to hypocrite. We mar the image of God and push people further away from Him (including ourselves).
So, here’s our challenge. Regardless of someone’s opinion on anything, love them. It is possible to disagree without attacking them. It is possible to disagree and respect them. It is possible to disagree and still show them love: both through word and action.