Holy hatred, Batman
Our granddaughter is a feisty young woman – always has been. When she was in middle school, we picked her up every afternoon after dismissal. Sometimes she would literally throw her bookbag in the car, plop down on the seat and say, “I hate people!” The ride home was then an exercise in patience for us as she unloaded her grievance with a teacher, fellow students or life in general. She needed that catharsis, and at the end of the tirade, she calmed down and we were able to talk rationally about whatever or whoever was bothering her.
I must confess that I have had moments like hers. Like the character in the movie Network, I have wanted to say, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Or more likely, I have wanted to mimic the Psalmist: “Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord … I have nothing but hatred for them.” (Psalm 139: 21-22) While I admire the honesty of the Psalmist, I also know that God would not him to wallow in that pit. The very next verse is an acknowledgment that God is paying attention to every thought that forms in the mind. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (verse 23)
In these tense and contentious times, I suspect that you may share the Psalmist’s angst, as do I. I also suspect that we need to pause at those times and realize that those who differ with us politically, religiously, socially, economically, racially, are not our enemies. They do not deserve our hatred. And more importantly, we do not need to waste our spiritual energy in hateful thoughts when we could be looking inside ourselves for ways to channel spiritual energy toward avenues of understanding. We need to pray, as the Psalmist prayed, that God would “ . . . lead me in the way everlasting.” (verse 24)
In the everlasting way, there is no room for hatred, but there is always a better way forward. It begins with understanding, proceeds towards empathy, and results in love — the exact opposite of hate. I urge you, as I push myself, to follow this everlasting way. It is the Godly way. It also fulfills Jesus’ commandment: “Love your enemies.” (Matthew 5: 44)
God, forgive my hateful thoughts. Transform them by your love for me into my love for others, even those who I consider unlovely or unlovable. Amen? Amen.
Offered by Rev. Dr. Julius R. “Tip” Tipton
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