Charlottesville. We all grieve the death of Heather Heyer and offer sincere condolences to her family. We all vehemently condemn the hate-filled racism that spewed forth last weekend. We all agree that those involved in this evil must be prosecuted and punished. We all hate haters.
The call for Christians to speak out is ringing true and clear and many have responded. My social media feeds are filled with tweets and status updates condemning the evil that was on display in Charlottesville.
Good. We must speak out against the blatant, reckless, destructive, and evil wickedness and hatred that is racism. However, what are we supposed to say about the hidden hate that resides in our own hearts? The hate we excuse? The hate we nurture? The hate we indulge?
“Not me!”, you say, “I don’t hate!” Really?
If we go back and read the words we posted over the weekend, we will see that some of us vented condemnation that extended beyond the events in Charlottesville. All of us started there, but some of us couldn’t help but creep – or leap – into more comfortable or acceptable arenas of hate.
Unfortunately, our condemnation of the racists and supremacists groups morphed into wholesale condemnation of groups of people who hold different political or religious ideas than we do. Some of us are guilty of inciting hatred against people simply because of their political or religious views.
Christians are called to speak out against all hate, not just the hate that we agree on. We are not to nurture, encourage, or promote hate; we are not supposed to protect private hate. Is there hate hiding in your heart? Is this hate dividing friends, families, and communities?
For example, when an unflattering meme, or a hateful comment about a person or group that you don’t agree with is posted, is it right to “like” that post? Doesn’t that promote or encourage hate? Shouldn’t Christians speak out against that display of hate?
What if there is a position on climate change, or GMOs, or abortion, or _________ (you fill in the blank) that you don’t hold, and someone posts a hateful comment that you agree with. Should you “like” that post? Or should you speak out against that display of hate?
Suppose your friend, who reads the Bible just like you, posts something derogatory, or hateful, about a denomination that holds a different idea – Should you “like” that post? Or should you speak out against that display of hate?
What about you? How often do you post hateful remarks about your congress, your President, or policy positions with which you disagree? Do you say hateful things about other Christians? Do you call people names? Do you belittle others for their opinions and deeply held convictions? It is OK to disagree, it is not OK to act with hate.
We are free to say anything we want to say. But is it right? Is it good? Is it kind? Will it enable or encourage dialogue? Will it promote unity? Will it change the world for the better? Will it win anyone to consider Christ?
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. – Luke 6:45 NIV
Our words will, and do, reveal the truth about what is in our hearts. We can speak out against hate all day long, but when our words are hateful, we condemn ourselves. The measure by which we judge others will be the same measure by which we are judged.
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged, for you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. – Matthew 7:1 NLT
We must scrutinize our own hearts as vigorously as we examine the actions and words of others. We must then confess and repent of all hate we’ve allowed to fester and grow. The only hate we can allow is the hatred of the things God hates.
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are commanded to love. Love is the means by which the world will recognize we belong to Jesus. We must show our love by words and deeds. Will your social media followers recognize you as a Christian by your words?
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are [Jesus’s] disciples – John 13:35 NLT
How can we make a difference for Christ in the world if people stop listening, or reading our words because of the vitriol? Hidden hate closes the door to dialogue, makes the divide wider, and whittles away at any hope for a better future.
We can, and should, speak out about things that we believe are wrong or hurtful, we must not be silent. But we cannot indulge hate and think that our words will be perceived positively. They won’t. And they won’t persuade anyone to change his or her own opinion or position.
To fulfill the command to go and make disciples we must first build and maintain friendships with people who disagree with us. As you speak out and condemn hate do your words point people to Jesus or away from him? Does your desire to promote your opinion override your ability to lead others to Jesus? Is there hate in your heart that needs to be repented of?
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