Throughout your life, people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, because in the end, hate in your heart will consume you.” – Will Smith
In the 1983 Sci-Fi film Star Wars Episode VI: Return of The Jedi, there is a scene in which the evil Emperor Palpatine attempts to persuade young Luke Skywalker to join The Dark Side. Emperor “evil personified” speaks these oft’ quoted words: “Good, good, let the hate flow through you.”
In the fantasy world of Star Wars, hate as well as other darker emotions (fear, anger, and aggression) allows one to tap into the “power of the dark side”.
Mere make-believe you say? Perhaps, but only a fool would deny the profound dark side that grips our world today. The insidious spread of malevolence which regularly disrupts the peaceful fabric of our social order is seemingly rooted and grounded in HATRED. Maybe the late Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s observation in his 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” was correct. He wrote:
“And in despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said; for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Hardly a day goes by when we do not hear of some horrendous act spurred on by hate. The vitriol of hatred can divide friends, family, a nation and the world. Hate destroys. People who are filled with hatred look upon life through a jaundice eye of extreme disdain. Fueled by this odium, they often passionately spew discord ” even hostility ” that is forged in the narrow-minded fires of resentment, distrust, bigotry, and contempt.
Hate is widespread in our modern culture. Racial, ethnic, homophobic, religious and social class hatred is everywhere. You name it and someone, somewhere probably HATES it with a passion.
I’m no saint (far from it), but I can honestly say that I have never ” even in anger ” said with passion, I hate you to anyone. Sadly, I’ve been on the receiving end of those three terrible words more than I care to remember. The wounds heal with time, but they leave little telltale scars.
Every now and then I laugh when stepping out of the shower (no, not from seeing myself in a mirror). My eyes catch a glimpse of a very weird little tattoo forever engraved on my glorious sun kissed body. It’s ever there to mock me, a permanent reminder of a brief youthful impulse. Thankfully, I had it positioned where the sun doesn’t shine. My “body art” means nothing to me now, nevertheless I will always bear its mark. Hate is a lot like my tattoo. The wicked ink of hatred forever scars the human soul.
Why all the hate anyway? Does hate resolve problems? Tell me the last time hatred brought about unity or positive change? Have you ever met a truly “happy hater”? I don’t think so.
This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Frequent readers already know that I’m a follower of the great teacher and redeemer known by the human name “Jesus”. I believe in His message and His mission. My faith is much more than a mere “religion” – it is my way of life. Some people have a real problem with that ” even to the point of hatred. How bizarre, considering that in most cases, we’ve never spoken nor met. But they have already formed an opinion based upon their biased ideas about Christianity (or religion in general).
My worldview is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian ethic which influences and shapes my character. When I encounter anything that clearly opposes these values ” I choose to reject it. It’s not open for debate. Genuine “truth” is neither erasable nor amendable. You will never convince me that some of the clear instructions of Jesus, for instance, need to be modified or repealed. Contrary to the opinions of pop culture, the ancient scriptures do not need to be “updated”, they need to be revisited.
Genuine Biblical Christianity is defined by a system of well-worn spiritual and moral beliefs, rooted and grounded in the Newer Testament writings. Believers hold these “truths” to be absolute (i.e. set in stone). They are a filter through which we scrutinize this present-day world system. I dissect the philosophies and traditions of its various peoples, organizations, religions and (especially) governments by the principles and precepts found in the sacred writings of contained in the Bible. This does not make me better than or superior to anyone, but neither does it make me a hate filled narrow-minded intolerant bigot.
I have never burned the Koran. I’m not a homophobic crusader. You will never find me yelling horrible things at frightened young women going into abortion clinics, and I have never stood on a street corner holding placards that condemn every passing motorist to an eternity in hell because of their sinfulness. Forcing others to accept my way “or else” has never even entered my mind. In fact, it never entered Jesus’ mind either. He merely spoke the truth and warned of the penalties associated with its rejection. I’ve made my choices in life; you must make yours, and we’ll each live with the interminable consequences.
Truthfully, there will be times when I cannot accept a political, moral, or lifestyle position simply because you think I should. Being true to my heartfelt convictions is not the same as intolerance or hatred. Even the “Lex terrae” (Law of the Land), if it is contrary to the clear teachings of scripture, may need to be defied if that law ever put me in direct disobedience to the higher laws of our Creator.
Listen, I am really sorry for all of the misinformed zealots, and assorted religious wackos you may have encountered over the years. I’ve run into a few of them myself. If ignorance is bliss, some have truly reached “nirvana.” It saddens me when I see so-called “followers of Jesus” attack and insult the very people whom they are called to love. I readily concede that any supposed Christian who lives as a self-righteous, prideful and hate-filled bully is a blight on the fruit of genuine truth. I can’t do anything about them or your unfortunate experiences with them. It’s not my monkey, not my circus, Okay? Please, don’t hate nor reject the Almighty One, or me, because of them.
You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people that you do.” – Anne Lamotte
Historically, organized Religion (including Christianity) has always been a bit of a mess. That’s what happens when flawed and inadequate humans attempt to communicate a message of Divine origin.
I have spent most of my adult life learning about and sharing the way, the truth and the life of the Liberator Jesus. It has been quite an adventure for me. Mind blowing really. I’ve discovered that when this other worldly being emerged here on spaceship earth, He claimed to have been sent to mankind from the designer of all things (GOD). He said that he took on human form to communicate with people in a relevant and understandable way. As a prophet and teacher, He familiarized mankind with the source of their existence. His message was rooted in perfect love ” not tolerance, as there is a huge difference. Jesus was not politically correct, and He often offended more people than I ever will. He was despised and rejected by the mainstream during His time on earth, but he readily identified with those who faced rejection, sorrow and grief. Finally, He was put to death at the hands of a vengeful and hate filled people. Incredibly, the grave could not hold him. His well-documented resurrection vindicated everything He taught. This humble man of sorrows overcame the hatred of ignorant humanity, and his Spirit continues to offer forgiveness and acceptance to all who answer the call. But that is what unpretentious love always does, right?
Look, I may not agree with nor be able to accept your way of life or your viewpoints. You can reject me and everything I believe too. We may even oppose one another outright in the marketplace of ideas. I will still choose to love you as a human being and that love comes without conditions.
Maybe you’re just not sure what to believe in these senseless days. Here’s something from the Newer Testament writings of Paul that I would really like to share with you:
12-15 “You should therefore be most careful, my brothers, that there should not be in any of you that wickedness of heart which refuses to trust, and deserts the cause of the living God. Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called “today”, and beware that none of you becomes deaf and blind to God through the delusive glamor of sin. For we continue to share in all that Christ has for us so long as we steadily maintain until the end the trust with which we began. These words are still being said for our ears to hear: ‘Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’.” ” Hebrews 3:12-15 ” J.B. Phillips New Testament
Our Creator is in conflict with all forms of depravity and wickedness. Thankfully, the Almighty can separate sin from the sinner. Some say it this way; God hates the sin but loves the sinner. I like to say; God loves us even when we do things that He doesn’t like at all. Either way, one fact will never change; when we admit our faults to this great God, He is faithful and unbiased in forgiving our shortcomings and failures.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr
But do keep this in mind, the perfect love and flawless justice of the Almighty One will one day compel Him to keep his word and banish the impenitent portion of mankind into perdition ” not because of what you have done (sin), but because you would not accept what He has done through this man called Jesus. “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”
Wherever you are on this crazy rock floating in the infinity of space, He’s there with you right now to throw you a rescue line. Don’t ask me to explain how or why. Who cares! He is with you now. All you have to do is trust Him. Go ahead, speak to Him. He can take it from here. He doesn’t need my help to open your heart and change your life for the better. He never did. I’m simply one of His diplomats.
Oh, one more thing, Longfellow closed his 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” with these words:
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Hatred is evil and like all wickedness, it will eventually fail. Love will triumph over hate. Did you hear me? LOVE RULES! Remember this,
16b-18 “God is love, and the man whose life is lived in love does, in fact, live in God, and God does, in fact, live in him. So our love for him grows more and more, filling us with complete confidence for the day when he shall judge all men for we realize that our life in this world is actually his life lived in us. Love contains no fear indeed fully-developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. This means that the man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.” (1 John 4:16-18 – Phillips)
Almighty Creator, I ask that you would help those who have read my words to reach out to you. May their eyes be opened so they too can see Jesus who came to our earth, taking human form to show us the way home again. Forgive them as they acknowledge they are no more than an outlaw who desperately needs your favor and forgiveness. As they open their heart to you, let them find the peace and joy that comes to those who are born again in spirit and set free from all hate by the truth. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656