I don’t think anyone can argue the statement that we are living in times when hatred is thriving. Our tired and fearful hearts have become fertile soil for the growth of bitterness and contempt. And we are keeping it fertilized by an overdose of news and social media feeds where misinformation seems to be preferable to no information at all. We’re exhausted emotionally and mentally.
The emotional stew we are simmering in—confusion, frustration, loneliness, grief, fear, boredom, helplessness—is bubbling to the point of boiling over. The emotions we’ve been holding in have to go somewhere, right? Like a steam engine being force fed too much coal, we are about to blow. And what is coming out is a destructive brew of overheated and toxic fumes known as hate.
Hate is an easy release for the complicated mix of emotions building within us. If we’re honest, sometimes the release even feels good for a moment, a victory in the fight to survive. Hate is not a forbidden emotion. The Bible tells us even God hates at times. The problem is when we hate the wrong things—when we choose to hate people and not behaviors.
Like the word love, we have trivialized the word hate. I can hate when my socks slide down in my shoes, when my cereal gets soggy before I can finish eating, or when a movie doesn’t end the way I want it to. But true hate is an intense hostility.
And no one has ever been hated into a positive change of their beliefs.
They may alter their behavior out of fear until the source of fear no longer exists, but we cannot hate a person into a changed heart. We cannot hate a person into greater wisdom or better understanding. We cannot hate someone into the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves (see Mark 12:31). Hate is a vicious cycle of hurling hostility back and forth with ever increasing intensity until at last we’ve built a wall we cannot climb—a wall too heavy to sustain itself. And when the wall falls, it falls on all.
But I don’t hate anyone, you say. Great, but have you been loading the wheelbarrow with stones which others will use to continue building the wall?
This is like having a giant heap of nasty smelling garbage growing in front of us. There are those deliberately adding to the pile of rubbish. There are those standing by reminding everyone how bad the trash stinks and how awful it is to have such a disgusting thing in our midst. And there are those who begin the hard work of removing the putrid debris.
I’ve seen good hearted and well-meaning people share posts and comments through social media that served no purpose other than to provide more material or reinforce what was already being used to separate and divide.
When I said there were things that God hates, one of those is people who sow discord among their brethren (see Proverbs 6:16). You might not have been the one to sow the discord, but by failure to steward what you are posting, commenting on, and sharing, you are keeping the field of discord tended so it can continue to grow.
Clicking the like or share button is easy, often after only a few seconds to read and no time at all to think. It takes more effort to stop and test whether this is really helpful. Will this fuel hatred or does it point toward healing?
Wall building isn’t hard either. And walls make us feel safe. We can sit behind the wall and launch grenades over our barricade at our perceived enemy, or pretend they don’t exist because we refuse to see them. Building a bridge, on the other hand, is risky business. We must leave the anonymity and safety of the wall, expose ourselves in the unprotected expanse between two often hostile forces, and lay the planks in one by one—the planks of compassion, forgiveness, respect, love, sacrifice, grace, mercy, friendship.
Any pile of rocks can become a wall, but a bridge requires deliberate construction.
What would happen if instead of building walls that separate and divide us, we started working on bridges that bring us together?
This week my challenge is for us to refrain from sharing or adding our opinions to any discussion or until we’ve answered the question “Will this further building the wall or the bridge?”
To thank you for your help in sharing these messages, I want to share with you something I recently fell in love with-- The Chosen, Season 1. Everyone who subscribes to my email between now and Sept 11, 2020 will automatically be entered in a drawing (US residents only) to receive the DVD of season 1. If you're already a subscriber, then refer a friend who subscribes and receive 2 entries! (Just be sure you or your friend let me know you referred them.)