Since Monday was Valentine’s Day, Sunday morning I preached a sermon about love out of 1 John. In studying the book last week, there was one thing in particular, that John repeats several times, that really caught my attention:
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” 2:9
“Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that a murderer has no life in him (Christ)” 3:15
“If any one says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” 4:20
In other words (in case you missed it) there is no hate in the Kingdom of God. And if anyone claims to be a Christian, but hates a person or group of people, John says they’re not really a Christian. In God’s kingdom, there is a zero tolerance policy on racism, sexism, classism, and every other “-ism” you can think of that makes it ok to hate someone.
Hate illegal immigrants? God’s love isn’t in you. Repent. Hate black people? God’s love isn’t in you. Repent. Hate homosexuals? Republicans? Democrats? Slow drivers? Old people? Teenagers? Coffee drinkers? Mormons? Basketball players? God’s love isn’t in you. Repent.
Some people will argue semantics at this point. They’ll say, “Jared, when John uses the word ‘brother’ he means ‘fellow Christian.’ So when he says, ‘Don’t hate your brother’ he means, ‘Don’t hate fellow believers.'” True, the Greek word for “brother” is often used in that sense, but if that’s your argument, you’re leaving the door open to hate someone. If John only meant don’t hate fellow believers, then you’re saying it’s ok to hate unbelievers. I’m not comfortable with that, because of 1 John 4:8- “God is love.”
There’s a group in Kansas that honestly believes they’re doing God’s work. The patriarch of the family also “pastors” their family “church” and leads them in protests and acts of hate. They picket the funerals of soldiers who have died in combat. They picket at abortion clinics, school plays, political rallies- they picket everything. They carry signs that say, “God hates you.” Their website calls Billy Graham “the great false prophet of our day” for preaching “the love and forgiveness of God.” It also declares Rick Warren a “lying whore” for encouraging churches to “be involved in solving world problems, like poverty and AIDS.” And they do it all in the name of Jesus.
This group is not a Christian group. They do not reflect the love, forgiveness, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Does God hate sin? Yes, but he loves people. He loves them more than I ever could, or could even imagine. When people spew hate in the name of God, it is not of God and it doesn’t bring him glory, honor or pleasure.
God is love. We are God’s children. Values are taken seriously in this family. Do you claim to be a Christian? Then your responsibility is to love people. There’s no way around it, no way out of it, and the Bible couldn’t make it any clearer. Love people. Period.