Hatred

I first wrote this post a few days ago, and had been ‘sitting on it’ while I decided whether I could post it as it was, whether I needed to edit it or, indeed, whether to publish it at all. And then, this evening, came the sad news of the murder of Jo Cox MP. As yet, no reason for the killing has come to light. But it would seem that hatred of some form played a part - whether because someone was ‘simply’ deranged, or whether it was politically motivated.

And then my friend Suzanne posted on her Facebook wall:

“Dear evil in the world, you will not win, you can not kill all the beauty, all the kindness, all the hope, all the love. Love wins! <>< “

Then I knew that I should post it.

In the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting, Pastor Roger Jimenez from Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said, in a sermon, of those who were murdered:

“As Christians, we should not be taking a sympathetic approach to these types of news and saying: This was a tragedy, this is something that we’re sad about, we should be mourning these people,” he said. “The Bible teaches that they’re all predators. That’s all the Bible says about them: They’re wicked, they’re vile, they’re predators. And God says that they deserve the death penalty for what they do..."

I don't know what bible he reads, or which Jesus he professes to follow, but his faith is not the same as mine.

Jesus said:

“ 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' ” Luke 10:27

In this globalised, Internet-connected, day and age the folks in that nightclub in Florida are his (and my) neighbours.

Folks like Pastor Jimenez are very fond of using Old Testament scripture to justify their hatred of sinners... Let's just make it totally clear that Jesus Himself is quoting from Old Testament scripture when speaking above:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

And

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

Fairly unequivocal there I think. We are also told not to judge:

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37

I may not like someone's lifestyle, or think that someone's actions are wise, but that does not give me the right to impose my values on them - let alone judge them or hate them. God does not hate them. Hatred such as Pastor Jimenez preaches, has no place in Christianity. Let me repeat what Jesus said:

He answered, “ 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' ” Luke 10:27

Preachers in some parts of the church, such as Pastor Jimenez, try to convince us that God hates sinners. They seem to believe that God is so calloused as to desire to throw most of mankind into Hell in order to achieve glory for Himself. What, I wonder, do they make of the words of John's first letter?

“God is love.” 1 John 4:16

That should not be difficult to wrap one’s mind around. It has no ifs, no buts and no maybes. That is the God I worship; a God whose very nature is love, and who therefore loves everyone unconditionally - i.e. He loves everyone, whatever they have done, whether they believe in Him or not. As a follower of Jesus Christ, that is my calling too. And it ought to be the calling of everyone who calls themselves Christian.

This evening, the news of Jo Cox’s murder made the world and our society seem very black, very bleak.

It would be very easy to despair of our world, and the people in it.

And yet...

God is love.

We cannot let the haters win.

I believe that love is stronger than hate.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2022