Ordinary people, doing ordinary things, on an ordinary day, lost their lives in a supermarket due to a mass shooter. It’s hard to imagine that going to a store to buy your child’s birthday cake could end in your death. It did for one man. When the unthinkable happens, it frightens us all. Yet, we […]
Hate is a strong emotion that we see expressed far too often. It is also a dark emotion that has no place in the heart of a Christian. You can dislike someone or not agree on major issues, but hate should not be embraced. Otherwise, it will become a cancer in your soul.
Today we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. who fought hate through love. Let’s honor his legacy by examining our heart and do everything we can to remove hate in our circles. Let’s call each other to love. To do so, ask yourself, is there hate for a person or a group that you secretly harbor?
So many people express hate on social media, in the streets and through divisive behaviors, targeting anyone who is different. We are surrounded by haters. The impact of this vitriol on a community and personal relationships is significant. In fact, consider what hate does to the brain.
Hate in the brain:
When someone is in love, the parts of the brain involved in judgment and reason deactivate. This is why we often say that love makes someone “stupid.” They lose their good sense. By contrast, hate heightens your judgment. It activates regions in the brain associated with aggression. The motor parts of your brain move those aggressive feelings into action. This is why holding on to hate is dangerous. The more a person hates, the more prone he or she is to take action. Haters calculate their moves and plan revenge. Reason and rumination are both involved.
Reasons we hate:
There are many reasons why people find themselves in this negative state of emotion–they have been deeply hurt by someone, fear others who are different, or feel empty and target others as a way to deal with the void. Sometimes, we hate because others remind us of negative things about ourselves and we project those feelings on to others. Hate can also be bred by betrayal and by envy. It can become all-consuming and affect a person physically as well as spiritually and emotionally. In the end, hate leads to bitterness.
Hate is learned:
We learn to hate somewhere—whether the source is online, a family system, disturbed friends, violent video games—something began to build hate as a way to deal with others and/or ourselves. But hatred is a sin of the heart. For the Christian, it is understood to be as dangerous as an act of murder. We are directed to rid ourselves of this destructive emotion.
The science of hate tells us that people who feel hate often beleive they can also be loving and kind. But hate is a cancer and brings only destruction. “Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).
Rid yourself of hate:
There is no positive benefit or place for hate unless you direct that emotion toward evil. Psalm 97:10. “Let those who love the Lord hate evil.” The way to get out of that darkness is to walk in the light and allow God to transform your heart. Forgive those who have hurt you. Let go of bitterness and the need for revenge. Stop thinking and ruminating about personal injustices. Rather, ponder how can you be part of a solution and begin to open your heart to love.
In today’s world, we need a healed land and healed hearts. Yet in my lifetime, we have moved completely away from national conversations that include the role of faith in a nation that was founded on faith in God. Instead, we only discuss secular solutions that fall short and are incapable of changing a hateful person’s heart.
Only God changes hearts. Only God can take a terrorist like Saul and transform him to Paul who loved those he once hated. If we want to stop hate, we need God’s transforming power. And sadly, that’s not a message we hear anywhere in today’s analyses of our hate problem.