Hate the Darkness; Love the Light

I hear daily reports of the hatred and animosity of human beings toward one another. Television news and social media are filled with expressions of hatred and distain for other people and other opinions. Words are bleak and discouraging; judgments are biased and caustic. Why are we so inclined to jump to dreadful conclusions about one another, and then quickly spew anger and hatred all over people we don’t even know? Why has journalistic competition become corruption?

In Scripture, hatred and love as moral characteristics are not primarily human emotions, but are attitudes expressed in human words and actions. Hatred is usually understood to be a strong dislike for someone or something with the implication of revulsion, a desire for avoidance, and even a feeling of horror. This fits with my hatred of bloody horror movies!

Jesus warned us, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18). The world, here, refers to the human system that opposes God’s purposes. Hatred is not innate; it is something that we learn. Even from childhood, we are taught to hate those people who are “different” from us. We are taught to despise “the opposition,” or “the other side.” Why are we teaching our children to hate other people without logic or reason? Learning to hate can come very easily if we are harmed in some way by something or someone. Consider snakes, spiders, final exams, moth millers (that’s on me!) – our fear of something makes us hate that thing.

In the Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, the head devil (Screwtape) explains to his subordinate demon (Wormwood) that, “Hatred we can manage. The tension of human nerves during noise, danger, and fatigue, makes them prone to any violent emotion, and it is only a question of guiding this susceptibility into the right channels….But hatred is best combined with Fear. Cowardice, alone of the vices, is purely painful – horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember; Hatred has its pleasures. It is therefore often the compensation [his emphasis] by which a frightened man reimburses himself for the miseries of Fear. The more he fears, the more he will hate [my emphasis]. And hatred is also a great anodyne for shame. To make a deep wound in his charity [kindness], you should therefore first defeat his courage.” 

In other words, it takes courage NOT to hate.  It takes courage to choose to love other people, regardless of the circumstances or what they have done to you. It takes courage to choose to rebuke fear, shame and guilt, and to put love into action in the form of forgiveness, mercy and grace. In addition, power breeds hatred — if someone hates something enough, it can justify violence, torment, and even death. This is evidenced by history – by the wars and dictatorships and the inhumanity of humanity towards one another.

“At one time, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:3-5).

The point of being a Christian is to be the evidence of God’s love in a crumbling world. Love is the evidence of the truth of Christianity and of the great wisdom of God. God wisely did not create a world of anger, hatred, prejudice and injustice. By rejecting God, humanity did that on their own. Then, Jesus destroyed the “barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” between people (Eph. 2:14). The means of reconciliation between the Jews and the Gentiles, between black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative (and others), between the “hating” and the “hated,” is ultimately found in Christ Jesus alone.

“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:19-21).

Walk into a dark closet; close the door behind you. Feel the jolt of the total darkness; feel the oppression and uncertainty. This is the feeling of hatred. Now, open the door and turn on the light. Suddenly you can see clearly, and you can rest assured that the light has overcome the darkness. In the Scriptures, light represents what is good, true and right, while darkness represents what is evil and false. Thus, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother or sister is still in darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in darkness. They do not know where they are going because the darkness has blinded them” (1 Jn 2:9-11).

What do you think? Does darkness scare you? Do you realize now that you were taught to hate something or someone when you were growing up?  Do you think that someone wants to keep us in the darkness? How can we resist and reject emotions of fear, hatred and unforgiveness?

“We love because he first loved us.” Shalom.

Author: Judy

Christian educator, writer, specializing in the New Testament

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