When My Faith Makes Me Hate, I’m Doing It Wrong
For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13:9-10
I read another article the other day about how someone, offended by national anthem kneeling, let loose a barrage of vile, racist speech towards those protesting. Insulted by the disrespect shown to the flag of the United States of America, this person responded in hate, and it was all caught on tape. The article didn’t indicate the hateful speaker’s faith, but often the excuse for such a response in similar situations is justified by both political and religious conviction.
I’m not condoning such a response, but I think I understand where it comes from. I’m generally a nice person to everyone. Sometimes of course, my kindness is viewed as an indicator of being an ally in politics or religion. When I see that someone whom I disagree with thinks that I’m on their side because I’m kind to them, I bristle. I find myself wanting to rescind my kindness. I don’t want them mistaking benevolence for approval. We may not know each other at all, but now, the one thing I want them to know about me is that I’m not on their side. We disagree and I must make sure that they recognize my enmity.
We’re prone to this kind of thinking as Christians. As followers of Christ, we often find ourselves at odds with our neighbor’s views. Our convictions are important to us and we feel that part of sharing our faith is to make sure that others know those convictions. We understand that kindness is often perceived as blanket approval, so we adopt a posture of unkindness – or hatred. I need you to know how much I disagree with you, so I will show you with my hateful posture towards you.
This is, as it turns out, is the exact opposite response that we’re supposed to have. In today’s passage, Paul said that we must love our neighbors. In fact, the entire law is summed up in this – You shall love your neighbor as yourself. God never asked us to become little Christian jerks for him. When we hate in the name of faith, we’re doing it wrong. Christ loved us and died for us while we were still his enemies. As his disciples, we must follow his example, loving those around us, whether we agree with them or not. We don’t have to agree, but still, we must love.