DEFEATING HATE WITH LOVE
Hate and Anger have become the hallmark of American culture. But the problem is not that there is too much darkness. The problem is there is not enough light. In the second half of this podcast I am going to talk about what you can do to increase the light this Christmas. But before we go there, let’s review some of the ways hate has surfaced in the past decade.
The most recent group targeted by the forces of unbridled hate are the Jews. Antisemitism reigns on our university campuses. College presidents at Harvard, U Penn and MIT, when questioned by Congress, refused to condemn the angry mobs who demanded the genocide of Jews. If those mobs were promoting genocide of blacks those same college presidents would have acted immediately. But since it is Jews, they don’t seem to care.
They seem callous to the Jewish babies that Hamas decapitated. They seem oblivious to the Jewish women Hamas raped, violated and killed. In fact, they appear to think such malevolence is in some twisted way, justified. They even appear to support those who want to push all the Jews into the sea.
Another group it is now fashionable to hate are women athletes who refuse to worship at the altar of Trans Intersectional Supremacy. When real women point out that it is unfair to allow biological males to compete against females, (stealing their scholarships, opportunities, awards) they’re attacked by misogynistic politicians & journalists for being “anti-trans.” The irony is anything but subtle. Same song, 2nd verse.
Before that it was “Whites,” or anyone else who refused to genuflect at the altar of the Wokies who preached: “Do unto others as they have done unto you.” Same song, 3rd verse.
Before that it was the One Percenters who needed to “pay their fair share.” Of course, we were never told what was “fair,” because it was simply another strategy to incubate anger and hate throughout culture. Same song, 4th verse.
Before that is was a “basket full of deplorables.” Same song, 5th verse.
Before that it was the Christians who embraced biblical teachings, including those about sexual behavior. Those who actually believed the Bible, were branded as, “Homophobes” and “haters.” Same song, 6th verse.
But it is even worse. In the past decade, Angry, hate filled people go well beyond words, routinely dispensing violence. Whether it was Black Lives Matter burning, looting and maiming, or racists attacking black churches and Jewish synagogues, or ideologues trying to kill supreme court justices, or alienated transgenders shooting school children, or the hundreds of other mass shootings and stabbings that have become the new norm, Hate and anger dominate the headlines.
Same song, 200th verse.
Is anyone else seeing the pattern here? It feels kind of like “Whack-a-Mole.”
But what’s the solution? What’s the remedy to Hate?
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot overcome darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot overcome hate, only love can do that.”
He wasn’t referring to a vacuous slogan on a t-shirt for living brain donors: “Love is Love.” Whatever that means. Apples are Apples. A rock is a rock. Aren’t you impressed?!
MLK was a pastor before he became the conscience of a nation. His view of love was shaped by the Bible. He must have been thinking of Christ-like love. Love is the ultimate expression of God’s personhood. It is God coming to earth as a baby in a manger.
That’s what Christmas is all about. “Peace on Earth. Goodwill toward men.” God sent his only Son, Jesus, to that manger, and ultimately to the cross, where he took the BULLET that WE deserved for our self-centeredness and our anger.
That’s what love is. That’s WHY the Bible says, “God is Love.” That’s the love MLK learned about from reading his Bible. Like MLK, we need to learn to hate what God hates, and love what God loves.
May I l tell you a story about a moment when Love overcame Hate in the life of a woman named Corrie Ten Boom?
Corrie and her family lived in Holland before World War II began. But once the war began, they began sheltering Jews, hiding Jews from the Nazis. But ultimately the Nazis caught up with them and so Corrie and her sister Betsy were put into a concentration camp until the end of the war. However, Betsy never made it to the end of the war. Because of the harsh conditions and the abuse by the guards, Corrie watched her sister Betsy die in that camp.
Corrie was a strong believer in God's love and after the war ended and they came out, she tried to help other people who were emotionally suffering from the consequences of the war. And here's what she found:
- Those who came to forgive and ultimately love their captors, love their tormentors, were made emotionally, spiritually whole again.
- And those who couldn't never recovered emotionally.
So Corrie would go around to different churches around Europe and tell her story and tell what she was trying to do with these broken people. One night in Munich she was giving a talk in a basement of a church. After that talk was over, people lined up to come and chat with her. At one point she looked up and recognized him. There was a man who was standing in front of her that she recognized as one of the guards who had abused her sister. And the horror of the moment filled her heart.
This man came up and said "Fraulein, I was one of the prison guards at that concentration camp where you and your sister were. I've become a Christian since then and I know God has forgiven me. But I feel like I need to ask you to forgive me as well. Can you do that?" And he extended his hand toward her.
Corrie said she froze. She simply could not lift her hand to meet this gentleman's hand. Finally, after she cried out to God in her heart, and she was able to lift her hand. And she said this, "When our hands touched, the love of God flooded my heart for this man. Not only had he been set free, but I had been set free as well."
That’s what real love is. And that is what real love can do. It transforms us from the inside out.
So, how can you use Love to combat Hate this Christmas? The Bible gives us four very simple steps regarding how to love the haters.
First, In Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
So, the first step in combatting HATE with LOVE is to “pray” for those who hate you. If you are not praying for those who have hurt you, you’re doing it your way — not God’s.
You can’t change another person’s heart. You can hardly change your own heart. God is in the business of changing hearts. So, ask him to do what only He can do — starting with your heart.
There are two other reasons you want to pray.
Ask God for wisdom. Unless you think you are smarter than God, this is just common sense.
And ask God to LOVE through you — just like Corrie Ten Boom.
Prayer is the first step to loving the haters.
The next three steps are in James 1:19: “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
So step 2 is: “Listen.” Part of listening is asking good questions. Seeking to truly understand. Ask questions like: Why do you feel that way? Have you been hurt by someone? On a scale of 1-10, how strongly do you feel about this? What would it take to move you from an 8 to a 9? Non-threatening.
When they answer. Listen. They are going to tell you their concerns about their own position. Concerns they would never otherwise admit. Find common ground no matter how small. That’s not the same thing as agreement.
For instance: “We both believe this is a very important issue.” Finally, “Tell me more”. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and what they think and feel. Open that door wide. If they come to feel like you care and understand, which is very different than agreement, you have built a relational bridge which may well bear fruit later on.
Step 3 is: “be slow to speak”. Why, because if your mouth is open, you’re not listening.
Notice, the verse doesn’t say, never speak. It says, “be SLOW to speak.” In other words, at some point you are going to speak. But not until you have listened and understood.
When I present the gospel to someone, if there is time, I always ask questions first. Why? Because I want to understand them. I want to know what their real issues are, so I can answer their real questions.
That’s just COMMON SENSE.
Step 4: “be slow to anger”. Why? The next verse, James 1:20 answers that question: “Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
Your anger is not going to produce Godly results. Your anger is not going to shine LIGHT. Why? Vomiting your anger on another person will never convince them you are right. In fact, it will push them away and make them even less receptive.
MLK: “Darkness cannot overcome darkness.” Anger cannot overcome anger. When you are tempted to get angry, ask yourself: “Do I want to win the person, or do I want to win the argument?”
Sometimes Jesus wanted to win the argument because there were a lot of other people listening --people who needed good answers. But usually, he wanted to win the person.
In Summary: How do you combat Hate with Love?
1) Pray for those who persecute you. God can change a heart. You can’t.
2) Be quick to Listen Seek to truly understand.
3) Be Slow to Speak. If your mouth is open, you’re not listening.
4) Be Slow to get Angry. Darkness cannot overcome darkness.
This Christmas you may be with some of those folks who try to push your buttons. These four steps will help you build bridges rather than walls.
Remember: the problem in America is not that there is too much darkness; the problem is there is not enough light. Shine your light.
May you experience God’s love this Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. And then pass it on to others.
God is the issue, in every issue— especially when it comes to overcoming hate.
This is Brad Bright. Thanks for joining me today. Please remember to like, subscribe or share this podcast if you found it helpful or encouraging.