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Weekly Word

Entries in Hatred (2)

Monday
Oct162017

The Cry of 'No H8'-III

Luke 6:32-36.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 15, 2017.

As the news exploded several weeks ago about the film producer Harvey Weinstein, we have had a new example of the hypocrisy that often parades in full view in this world.  He was supposed to be a great champion of women’s rights and all along many knew that he was using his power to trample the hearts and minds of young women.  Yet, most said nothing, and some even enabled him all the while decrying these things in the lives of people that they did not like.  For whatever reasons Harvey Weinstein has gone from a protected status to persona non grata, it is safe to say that Hollywood is riddled with many more like him.  It is not just Hollywood and it is not just sexual abuse.  The system of this world is riddled with hypocrisy.  No matter how loudly this world touts the principles of love and compassion, we must always recognize the human tendency to overlook the sins of those we like and highlight the sins of those we do not.  Whenever you lift the rug, you find all manner of evils that have been swept under it by the perpetrators and by those who are in their good graces.

Now some may scoff at the words of Jesus to love your enemies.  However, if you need a good reason to accept his wisdom, you only need to hear his heart on the subject and then honestly look at the world around you and inside of you.  So we pick up where we left off two weeks ago in Luke chapter 6.

Only Loving Those Who Love You

After telling us to love our enemies, Jesus gives us the reasons for doing so.  In verses 32-34 Jesus lists three actions that are really just three ways of saying the same thing: loving, doing good, and lending.  As we move through this I will use the action of love to focus all of them, since it is the key virtue and the argument can be made that the other two are just facets or ways of loving.  In the passage about love we are told that “even sinners love those who love them.”  Something that may seem shocking to people is the fact that Jesus uses a verb form of the famous Greek term Agape (unconditional love).  Thus sinners have agape for those who give them agape.  The idea that we can unconditionally love those who unconditionally love us is itself a logical mess.   It is self-canceling.  Yes, people do it.  But Jesus is pointing out this is not really agape love, in fact it is not really loving others.  Similarly, his point is that sinners do good to those who do good to them.  Also, sinners lend money to those from whom they will get the same back.  Such a virtue is no virtue at all.  It is simply a form of moral indirect action in which people actually love themselves.  It is not moral to build feedback loops that give us what we want.  We should love people regardless of what they do to us because it is the right thing to do.

Now Jesus prefaces each of these by saying that to do such things is no credit to the person because even sinners do that.  Now, on one level, we can see that Jesus is calling us to do something that sticks out from the world around us.  Our righteousness must exceed the “righteousness” of those around us who are not living for God.  In fact, much of our love in life is done in situations where we are receiving some of it back, sometimes more and sometimes less, but always some.  Jesus is not saying that it is bad to be loved back.  However, he is pointing out that the motivation of most is that they only love those who love them (from their judgment).   But, notice such a love is of no value to God.  We might believe it has some relative value to us as humans.  But such a selfish love does not truly help people.  It only allows us to continue down a destructive road of self-love.

As I said earlier it is illogical to say that you unconditionally love those who unconditionally love you because there actually is a condition.  This is the mantra of the world today and of our own heart if we allow it to be.  “As long as you unconditionally accept me, I will unconditionally accept you.”  However, there will always be conditions that change with the passing fads of time.  In the past Christians were told that they needed to be more accepting of adulterers, and then it was homosexuals.  Today the vice de jour is transgender people and the idea of fluid gender.  You see, yesterday you were accepted if you accepted X, and then X+1, but today it is X+2.  Unless you get on the right side of this ever changing line then none of your previous “love and acceptance” matter.  This is utter hypocrisy.  Our modern age loves to pillory and castigate the generations that have gone on before us, as if we have attained a far higher virtuous plane.  Have we really?  To our credit, we can say that society has gained some wonderful things and gotten rid of some horrible things.  But we haven’t become more virtuous as a people.  It is just no longer in style or socially acceptable to have slaves, or to be rich at the expense of your workers, or to abuse women.  Yet these things happen all day long and are often covered up by people who project a pristine moral image.  So have we really become more loving than previous generations?  I do not believe so.  In fact, 1 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”  He is saying that on one hand they will be unloving, but on the other hand they will love pleasure, money and themselves very much.  To the degree that we love ourselves, we are unable to love others.  Why don’t we take some time to go over some hypocritical situations that look godly on the outside, but deny the power of true godliness (which is repentance from sin).

Examples of Hypocrisy

At this point I will give credit to Nicholas Senze, Director of Faith Formation at St. Vincent dePaul Catholic Church in Arlington, Texas, for some of the illustrations to follow.  He has an article online called The Hypocrisy of the Modern World, with CrisisMagazine.com. 

Our businesses, political parties, universities, media, and even religious groups create ideological “echo chambers” that simultaneously declare a commitment to diversity and open dialogue, all the while silencing any who contradict our biases with honest discussion, even to the point of firing or casting out those who do so.  Everything is nice as long as you toe a particular line.  But if you don’t the claws come out.  They are a fuzzy bunny one second and a salivating werewolf the next.

As a Christian florist in Washington State is drug through a lengthy and costly public trial for not doing the flowers for a same-sex wedding, there is no similar public outcry or government charge (where are you Attorney General Bob Ferguson) when Christians are kicked out of a Seattle coffee shop and denied service.  This was not done because they were proselytizing on the premises, but because they had been seen handing out leaflets against abortion in the local area.  Hypocrisy.

We often talk about defending the helpless and tout our virtue to the heavens.  Yet, we are silent and enabling when it comes to a human pregnancy.  We will spend gobs of money to travel around the world to stop female circumcision and yet can’t get out of bed when babies in the womb are being slaughtered across the street.  How can such a disparity exist?  It does because it is socially acceptable to chop up a baby in the womb, suck its body parts out, and throw them in the trash bin (unless of course there is money to be had).  In Roe V. Wade the court based its decision upon its inability to answer the question, “When does life begin?”  Now that we have an avalanche of evidence of when life begins, still the silence is deafening.  In fact now we talk about when one actually becomes a person and has personhood.

But, it gets worse.  This thing that isn’t a person yet, however, does have a sexual orientation, all the while its gender is still fluid.  Our illogical statements are never resolved.  But are just left to hang there as a tribute to our hypocrisy.

We cry wolf about the violence of those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, while remaining silent or even encouraging (wink, wink) of violence of those who fight our enemies.

We are told to curb the appetites of food to the point of either banning or taxing to death certain foods.  We are all to be Spartan athletes in training, so to speak.  But, speak of curbing sexual appetites, and you will be called all manner of expletives, and told to “get the government out of my bedroom/womb.”

Now from a Christian standpoint we must be honest about one thing.  If we define hypocrisy as not living up to the ideals that you profess to have, then we are all guilty because of the weakness of human desire.  Even Mother Theresa fell short of her own ideals at times.  The Christian should never pretend sinlessness, but rather rely upon repentance and forgiveness.  The problem with the world is not sin, but rather a hard heart towards repentance.  Hypocrisy is at its worse when it allows itself to do one thing, while forbidding it to another.  We see this everywhere in our “virtuous” society.  In fact the case can be made that while we are making the outward structures of our society look more “godly,” we are powerless to fight the onslaught of inner desires that are destroying our nation.

As we go back to our passage, we are told in verse 34 that if we love our enemies, do good to them, and lend without expecting anything in return, then we will be Sons of the Most High.  The obvious reality is that if we do not do these things, but instead follow the lemming path of the world around us, then we are not Sons of the Most High.  Instead we take on the image of a different father, who is the god of this world, Satan.  Christians must not only follow Jesus in word, but also in deed.  This involves rejecting the “love” of this world (as it models and defines), and a “love” for this world (the inner seduction towards its systems).  God does not quash all objectors and withhold from the wicked all good things.  All around us we see the goodness of God coming to the righteous and the wicked alike.  This is not proof that God likes what they are doing, though it feels that way at times.  It is only proof that God is love.  However, there is a day of judgment.  Though God is kind, He must eventually judge.  Thus, He has given us this life to live and then the judgment.  In His mercy, He lets us all enjoy the good of life and also suffer that has been created by people.  Christians must love others regardless of what they do, because we are making a choice of who we want to be our father.  Who do I want to become like?  We can do so knowing that God will make all things right.  To love your enemy is not to approve of what they do, but rather, to trust that God will deal with them justly.  It is not to pretend that what they do is okay, but rather, to speak the truth in love (for their good rather than for their bad).  We must relinquish the desire to control others, and instead control ourselves from the inside out.

I have skipped over the fact that Jesus says that those who listen to Him and love their enemies will be deserving of great reward.  So will I trade great reward from God for the trinkets that I can get from people in this life?  Harvey Weinstein promised to make young women famous if they would only satisfy his perverted desires.  He also bullied those who rejected his advances.  This is not love.  Everyone who is picking up stones to pound Harvey Weinstein, should take a hard long look in the mirror.  He is a man who has lived a life of loving himself alone, and no one else.  Is that you?  Is that me?  Are you only loving those who love you back?  Isn't that simply loving yourself by extension?  We cannot live by the world’s ethic and find great reward.  Only those who turn from the wisdom of the world and follow the wisdom of Jesus will find such.

No H8!- III audio

Friday
Oct132017

The Cry of 'No H8'- II

Galatians 5:19-21; Proverbs 26:24-28; 1 Peter 4:7-8.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 08, 2017.

Last week we talked about the Christians duty to love their enemies and to reject hatred.  We are called to live our lives by the truth and the love of Jesus.  This is easier said than done when destructive events happen in the life of an individual or a group.  If we were to investigate the roots of those destructive events within the perpetrators, without doubt we would find hatred in all its forms.  Many events are physically destructive: bombings, shootings, kidnappings, etc.  But, hatred may also target a person for political destruction, relational destruction, destroying someone’s business life, or social standing within any group.  These things can be just as devastating in the life of those affected as if someone had tossed a bomb into our life.

Those who suffer at the hands of hate can easily give in to the desire of the heart to hate back and to get even.  Why does Jesus teach that this is wrong, and even further that we must love them?  Well, let’s go under the hood of hatred (so to speak) and walk through some of the biblical reasons why God is dead set against using hatred to accomplish justice.

Hatred is a work of the flesh

In Galatians 5:19-21 we are given a list that is referred to as “the works of the flesh.”  This list is contrasted with the “fruit of the Spirit.”  Hatred is in the first list, which is clearly not exhaustive.  Thus the source of hatred cannot be found in the Spirit of God.  It is found within the sinful nature of us humans.  We are the source.  It is easy to blame everything, but ourselves.  However, God’s Word does not leave that option open to us.

Last week we defined hate as an intense ill-will towards another person or group.  Though this is a motivation of the heart, it always leads to outward actions of some sort, even if it is merely avoidance.  So when a person first embraces the inner advances of hatred, it may seem innocent and justified at the time because we haven’t done anything, yet.  Human courts at this point in time do not hold people accountable for thoughts and feelings.  In fact it would be impossible to do without error at this time.  They are held accountable when the hatred breaks out into an illegal action.  Yet, God has gone on record that he will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ (Romans 2:16).  So we should not sit comfortably just because we “haven’t done anything.”  God calls us to a higher “righteousness” than not doing certain things.  Like a seed, hatred will not remain static.  It is extremely industrious and your flesh will keep pushing you until the wicked fruit of hatred is brought to maturity.

Now, the problem here cannot be solved with a law.  No law, whether from God, or mankind can get rid of all hatred.  We would have to get rid of all people.   Scientists are working on ways to figure out how to read people’s minds and thoughts.  But even if we were able to identify it with our technology, the truth is that all people at one time or another have thoughts or feelings of hatred.  There is much in our inner life that surface in our heart and yet we mentally reject as acceptable and something we want to embrace.  We would have to have a world where everyone is connected to an Artificial Intelligence that can alert the authorities to an outbreak of hatred within a person.  Such a world would be chaos instantly.  God’s Word does not point us back to the Law as a solution for our salvation.  The Law is helpful for helping us to see that we have problems.  But, it is powerless to help us heal or to give salvation.  At the best we can only cut off those actions of hate that rise above the surface.  However, the roots will grow increasingly large under the surface.  Your flesh wants to hate.  It will be drawn to that direction.  But, the Holy Spirit wants to lead you towards loving people in truth.  So the answer is to repent of our sins and turn to the Spirit of God for direction.  It requires saying, “No!” to our flesh and, “Yes!” to the Spirit of God.  Yet, even this is not the foundation of our salvation.  The foundation of our salvation is the fact that Jesus paid the price for our hatred and other sins at the cross.  Those who repent of their self-justified life and put their faith in Jesus have their guilt removed from them.  They are freed to follow the Holy Spirit and become progressively more like Jesus.  Now let’s look at a couple of proverbs to help us pull apart some of the inner workings of hatred.

Hatred deceives everyone

In Proverbs 26:24-28, we are reminded that hatred is deceptive.  When it happens in our heart, we embrace a life of deceiving others.  Because we fear others knowing what is in our heart and mind, we become deceptive in our life with others.  This can be simply for tactical advantage, or it can be because we know it is wrong and we fear others knowing about it.  Thus we are told that hatred masks itself or disguises itself.  We create a false persona towards those we hate, but it is often impossible to separate this false persona from the people we love.  Pretended love, pretended fellowship, pretended concern for truth, justice, and the good of all, are all deceits that make things worse for all.  Yet, it looks loving on the surface.

In verse 24 we are told that the hater “lays up deceit within himself.”  Hate is a growing thing that we can harbor in our heart.  Every day a person can be making more and more deposits of hateful thoughts and emotions.  You cannot harbor these things without deceiving yourself.  You may at first understand that there is something wrong with hating.  But if we allow it to remain and grow we will become hardened to love and become convinced of the “noble causes of justice” that our hatred drives us to pursue.

We are also told that those who plot the harm of others will eventually be caught in their own plots.  Like Haman in the book of Esther, they will be hung on the gallows that they made for someone else.  I know that there are people who are consumed with hate and seem to get away with it all the time.  They have mastered the art of hatred.  However, it will get them in the end.  Don’t let yourself be fooled.  If you pursue a life of ill-will towards another, no matter how justified, you will find yourself standing before a holy God who will be just as stern with you.  Hatred promised you justice, but didn’t tell you that you would also be hung on your own petard.

Hatred stirs up strife and discord

Another proverb about hate versus love is found in chapter 10, verse 12.  The Apostle Peter quotes part of this proverb in 1 Peter 4:7-8.  So we will look at both. Here is the proverb.  “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”  Proverbs 10:12.  This statement about hate is very straightforward.  It will not leave well enough alone.  It stirs up strife and discord, first within the individual that gives in to it and second among those around us, who are often innocent bystanders.

Why is hatred so discordant?  It is because hatred has the ability to watch people like a hawk, and to watch the situation for any favorable edge to bring about the demise of another.  It seeks any occasion: of fault for accusation, of open ears for gossip, and of imagining the worst motives for others.  It does not remain solely focused on those who initially stirred it up within us.  Like a wounded animal, hate becomes a weapon and way of life that lashes out at anyone who gets too close.  Any person who is willing to listen becomes a sounding board for our inner discourse.  This litany of errors of the other person may have some truths in it, but hate drives us to propagandize such errors into far more than they usually are.  It always consumes us with the worst possible motives of our target.  In this sense hatred truly becomes neurotic.  For every time it is correct in its analysis, there are dozens of errors in our own thinking, and harsh judgments.

In this way hatred is the opposite of a peacemaker.  In the beatitudes Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the Sons of God.”  This will not be true for the person who embraces hate.  Instead of being a source of life and hope in a situation, the person of hate makes it worse and cuts off all hope of making peace.  They have become not like Christ, but more like the devil.  Now the passage in 1 Peter 4 only quotes the love side of this proverb.  He reminds believers that love covers a multitude of sins.  This is not the same as covering up sins.  This is not about avoidance, but about forgiveness.  Love forgives and moves on.  But hatred will never forgive and never moves on.  Peter warns believers that the end of all things is at hand, or near.  In other words, he is reminding them to love because the time of judgment is near.  Hatred makes us blind to our own coming judgment.  We can only see the judgment that we desire on the other person or group.  The judgment of God is coming upon this entire world, and we will want to be on the right side of that judgment.  The ends you were pursuing will not justify the means of hatred that you employed when you stand before Jesus.  Only the person who has trusted His way and followed the Spirit of God, who rejected hate and embraced love, who let the words of life flow through them to be a channel of the life of God, will be justified in that day.  Hatred blinds us to just how ugly our own sin is, and how dangerous a position we are in before God.  We become like the man, whom God forgave a gazillion sins, who then goes out to not forgive another who has sinned against us 100 times.  We undercut the mercy of God by our own lack of mercy.  It is only just that a person who has fed on hatred their whole life, be given hatred at the moment of their own judgment.

Peter also mentions the need for serious prayer.  The prayer is called serious in the sense that it is sober.  The restraint is in reference to our flesh and inner life.  God is not interested in prayer as a movement of your lips and the recitation of particular words.  He wants serious, sober prayers that are honestly wrestling with the inner life in response to the Word of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  If you have been injured and hurt, do not embrace hurt.  Rather, through prayer, lay your petition before God.  Through prayer, calm your tumultuous heart so that you can talk with others about what has been done to you.  Through prayer, reject the tendrils of hate that seductively wrap themselves around your heart and let God’s Spirit replace it with His love.  Ask God to help you to guard your own heart and to love as He loved.  Trust completely in the justice that He has promised all who follow Him, rather than the deceptive promise that hatred gives to us.

No H8!-- II audio