Last week I shared how this series has invited me to confront the ways in which hatred lives in me in the form of my extreme dislike/disgust for Donald Trump. And, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, harboring such hatred in my heart will not go well for me.
Indeed, harboring hate in our hearts will not go well for anyone.
Such is the point of the title of this series.
Hatred is lethal.
As far as I can tell, there is no getting around that.
Therefore, because I value the quality of life I’m living... because I don’t want my mind, heart, and soul to slowly be eaten away... and because I care about the people around me (and if hatred poisons my heart, make no mistake, it will impact the people closest to me)...
…then I need to:
Name the hatred within me - ✅,
Decide that I want it rooted out ✅, and
Make a plan of action for extracting the hatred--because it will not go away on its own.
Time to start working on step 3.
Hating Evil, Not People
At the end of last week’s article I tried to articulate the importance of not walking away from “hating” the actions and behaviors and ideals and beliefs of Trump--or anyone, for that matter.
It might be helpful if I found another word for this: opposing? rejecting? actively resisting? But the gist is, the solution to eliminating hatred from our hearts cannot be to then simply feel fondly toward a person, or decide that what they say and do is suddenly acceptable.
Not-hating someone cannot equal abdicating our responsibility to fight against evil.
No, that can’t be the way forward.
Which means the challenge seems to be:
Can we envision a way forward in which we
Eradicate hatred from our heart, while also
Maintaining a firm stance against evil.
Which to me feels like the most Jesus-y thing ever.
Be Like Jesus
By all accounts, Jesus didn’t hate anyone.
People hated him, but it doesn’t appear that he returned such animosity. Even when his close friend, Judas, betrayed him, he demonstrated compassion and kindness. While hanging from the cross, executed for no good reason, he rejected hatred’s attempts to poison his mind, and instead uttered, “Father forgive them, for they don’t realize what they are doing.”
So yeah, I feel comfortable making the claim that Jesus didn’t hate people... HOWEVER... he very much railed against evil actions, harmful beliefs, and oppressive systems.
He flipped tables, called religious leaders names, attacked hypocrisy, and spoke out against injustice. All while maintaining love in his heart.
Doesn’t that sorta sound like the gold standard?
I mean, if being a Christian means anything, it must begin (and end?) with following the Way of Jesus and trying to live as he lived.
And if that’s the case (which I don’t know how anyone could/would argue against), then that therefore must mean that his Way of life has to be attainable, right? It has to be doable? If not, then we’re all just kind being divinely punk’d.
(I’m reminded of the scene in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood where Llyod calls Mr Rogers, played by Tom Hanks, a “saint,” and Mrs Rogers says, “Don’t call him that... a saint... that makes his way of life seem unattainable.” Her point was, he practiced his way of life, and anyone else could, too.)
The Actual Point
I don’t think we’re mere players on God’s HTV* reality show. I don’t think we’re just play acting down here, passing time until we get to Heaven.
I think trying to embody the way of Jesus is actually the point. Not just a thing you do if you get around to it, while the real goal is “believe the right things.”
No, I think right-living is what we ought be aiming at.
And in this case, the thing I’m trying to aim at (and, by extension, I suppose I’m inviting you, the reader, to consider aiming at as well) is this balancing act of loving people/enemies while also standing firmly against evil/injustice.
Which one keen reader wrote to me last week and said, “Isn't that the same as loving the sinner and hating the sin? And isn't that what the LGBTQ community has been subjected to over and over again?”
Brilliant question, and I’ll respond to that next week.
Because next week I’ll offer my first of three parts in my plan of action for rooting out the hatred in my heart.
It begins by doing the hard work of separating a person from their actions.
See you then.
How about you, dear one, is there hatred in your heart that you want eliminated?
Are you interested in and/or willing to go there with me?
Would you like to also aim at the goal of loving people but resisting/opposing their evil actions?
*HTV stands for Heaven Television, obviously.