When my daughter was a pre-schooler, she asked me if it was okay to hate the devil. I think I stumbled over the question, trying to say both yes and no, explaining that God loves everyone and had created Satan as the most beautiful angel ever. It was the actions, the sin that God hated. When I think of Satan, I think of the evil things he does and I hate them…it’s hard to separate his actions from his being.
Try saying to your children, “I hope you grow up to be as good at hating as Jesus is.” Such a provocative statement will grab their attention! It’s been easy for me to see that Jesus is loving and caring. But to think of Jesus as someone who hated is harder to swallow. No, he never hated people. But he always hated sin and evil, actions that led the people he loves into bondage.
I live in a small city that is occupied by a “Christian” hate group that stands on street corners with signs expressing God’s hate for certain types of people. That’s not the kind of hate Jesus had. I hate their hate. Then there are those who protest the protesters by waving our country’s flag and proclaiming peace. Instead of responding with returned hate, they try to point to what is good.
While sometimes it is hard to separate a person’s actions from their being, it is truly possible to completely hate the action of a person and still completely love him. When one of my children tells me a lie or shows disrespect, it brings me grief. I hate that lie with a passion and I hate the disrespect with a vengeance because it puts a strain in our relationship. Yet even in my frustration, I still love both my children immensely and nothing they do could ever change that. I want them to hate sin and to hate evil in their own lives so that they will not suffer that barrier that they place between themselves and God.
Jesus may have hated, but he hated actions, not people. His love for people even in the midst of their sin is evident throughout the gospels. He loved them even while they were choosing sin. He offered the means for the barrier between them and God to be broken. Because He loved so much, through the cross He provided the way for the bridge to remove the gap.
I want my kids to hate – to hate sin – to hate it enough to turn away from filthy music, raunchy television shows, and immoral actions of peers. I want them to love goodness and light, to let Jesus shine through them so that others will be drawn to Him and away from the ways of the world that entice, trap, and enslave. I want them to be good at hating what Jesus hated, and to be good at loving what Jesus loved.