Hate is a little word.  It is only four letters.  Such a small word couldn’t possibly be all that important, yet somehow I’m pretty sure I could write the longest post ever on it.  Hmmm, maybe I will.

Let’s start by talking about what hate is.  I believe that hate is choosing to dislike something or someone so much that you are willing to hurt others in order to maintain that dislike.  “Now wait a second, Snarky.  I seriously hate brussel sprouts and I have never once hurt anyone else because of it.  I don’t even choose to hate brussel sprouts; they’re just disgusting!”  No.  You do not hate brussel sprouts.  You may not enjoy the flavor of brussel sprouts.  You may find that the scent of brussel sprouts annoys you.  You do not hate brussel sprouts.  Also, you have never tried brussel sprouts the way I make them.

“Oh but hold on, Snarky!  I am a Christian!  Christians, true Christians, do not hate.”  Excuse me.  I need to go pee now so I don’t wet my pants laughing at this one.  Christians are the masters of hate.  We have hate down to a science.  What should really be scaring us is that so many Christians have made a religion out of hate and started calling it “love”.  Oh, and just so we’re clear, if you have ever felt the need to use the term “true Christians” you have a pretty good handle on how to hate.

“Silly Snarky!  I am a liberal (Buddhist, pacifist, vegan, therapist, advocate, mommy, mediator, hippie, priest, new ager, drunk, Californian, yogi, surfer, etc) and we don’t hate!”  Trust me.  Unless you are a dog or a dolphin, you have recently hated, and seeing as how you are reading this, I can assure you that you are not a dog.  Dogs cannot read.  I’m pretty sure dolphins CAN read but I don’t think they have much access to computers.

So, how do I know that you have recently hated?  Seriously.  I have a facebook account.  I see what you are posting.  I see the hateful things that are trending.  I see the articles you are sharing.  I see the sarcastic comments you make, thinking that your wit will change that stupid person’s mind.  I do it too.  We think we are helping others to change their stupid or evil ways.  We think we are preventing others from believing falsehoods.  We think that we are changing political views so that, for the first time in the history of the world, lawmakers will get it perfect.  We are deceiving ourselves.  We are hating.

This all occurred to me because of two events that happened right in a row.  First, I saw an article on facebook that was shared by a lot of people.  The article was about a famous pastor (there is nothing we Christians like to hate more than a famous pastor) and his wife and how they are leading people astray with their message of how God loves people and wants them to be rich and happy.  The article was supposed to be read as “Don’t fall for this crap, these are evil people.” but, from the eyes of someone who didn’t really care, came off more as “I’m really jealous of these people so I will call them evil and try to make you hate them.”.  Keep in mind that I know nothing about the author of the article and only slightly more about the people the article was about.

A short time later I was listening to a pastor (I’ll be honest, I can’t remember who) talking about judgment.  They pulled out the usual “Judge lest not ye be judged” verse and suddenly my mind reeled.  Wait a second! I thought.  That means that if we condemn someone for a flaw in their theology, and our theology is anything less than perfection, we had better be prepared for some judgment from God.  I don’t know about you, but my view of God is growing every day.  The things I believed in, even just a couple of years ago, seem so small minded now.  Because of this, I can only assume that, as I read the Bible and discuss things, my theology will continue to grow.  I have always believed that I will never completely grasp concepts like eternity, grace, love and God until the day I die.  Maybe even then I won’t truly grasp them because maybe to fully understand those things is to be God.  The point is that I do not want God to judge my theology, so I should maybe avoid judging someone else’s.  Because as small and wrong as their theology may seem to me, mine must look even worse compared to God’s.

But how do we stop hating?  That part is simple.  And impossible.  At first.  There are people out there who do a fairly good job of not hating.  Watch those people.  If you don’t know any of those people I would highly suggest following a blog like Momastery (as in monastery not mom mastery).  She works very hard at this love thing and is starting to get pretty good at it.  Another person to watch is Kid President.  That kid is pretty real, pretty funny, and pretty low on the hate scale.  He is also just about the cutest thing you have ever seen.  Then, start to support people.  All people.  Even people you don’t agree with.  Especially people you don’t agree with.  Think about the people you disagree with the most.  That group that makes your blood boil.  The most deceived people you know.  Do something nice for those people.  If you think people on government assistance are lazy, take a family on welfare out to dinner.  At a real restaurant, not McDonald’s.  If you think the teenaged generation is a lost cause, sit down with one and talk about the changes THEY want to make in the world.  If you think another religion is going to hell, attend one of their worship services and commit to finding three beautiful things about their worship.  Don’t like republicans/democrats?  Sit down and learn more about the dozens of OTHER political views and see how democrats and republicans are basically the identical twins of politics.

What about speaking the truth in love?  Yes, this is very important.  It is important to speak the truth in love.  We just rarely do it.  Even when we think we are doing it, we are not doing it.  We somehow have confused hurting people with speaking the truth in love.  They are not the same thing.  If you see someone doing or believing something that you feel is wrong, and they are not causing physical or emotional damage to anyone, you leave them alone.  What?!?  I’m serious.  No matter how big of a sin you think they are committing, no matter how flawed their beliefs, you stay the heck out if it UNLESS they ask you for your opinion.  You CAN introduce them to a God who loves them like crazy, but you do NOT point out their flaws to do so.  IF God has an issue with their actions or beliefs, He can correct them far more quickly and thoroughly without you butting in.  You would be amazed at how quickly this happens.

The best example of speaking the truth in love was carried out by a pastor friend of mine.  I will tell the story as well as I can remember it.  I will probably get a lot of it wrong.  So, this pastor had a member of his church who was brand new.  I don’t think he had ever been to church before, but very much enjoyed the love from God that was obvious to him in this church.  One day he was very excited because he got tickets to see a very famous psychic.  Very famous.  Yes, that psychic.  He was especially excited because he had just had someone he loved dearly pass away, and wanted to be comforted by hearing from them.  The pastor didn’t know what to do.  He felt that seeing a psychic was not something that this new member should do, but knew he should only act out of love.  He went to the man and comforted him in his loss.  He showed love.  Suddenly the new member turned to the pastor and told him that he was going to see a psychic, but suddenly wasn’t sure if he should.  He asked for the pastor’s opinion.  He gently told the new Christian that there are places in the Bible that suggest not consulting psychics.  He thanked the pastor.  He gave his tickets to someone else.  He went on feeling loved.

He could have shouted.  He could have gotten angry.  He could have told this new Christian that psychics are fake.  He could have blamed the devil for trying to steal one of his flock.  He could have accused the psychic of being evil or said that people who consult psychics go to hell.  He didn’t.  He chose love.  Because he chose to love everyone involved, God was able to step in and guide this man in a loving and comforting way.  Also, I believe, had the psychic heard the interaction, they might have been just a little more interested in knowing the loving God that this pastor served.

It is hard, though.  Choosing love over hate takes a conciseness and discipline that is rare.  I know you can do it, though.  I know that you can be brave and kind.  I know that you can resist the temptation to show off what you know and just show off how you love.  Love is four letters too, but somehow it is stronger.