How often, in a discussion, have you heard of a person being accused hating this or that group because they have disagreed with some aspect of what they say, do or consent to?
Who hasn’t been accused of hating many different people because they argued against their lifestyle or theology?
It is an invalid argument which is used to discredit a person for something which isn’t necessarily true.
Disagreement does not equal hatred.
We may disagree on a number of issues; politics, theology, sport, ethics, but does this mean we hate one another? No. It means we have contrary opinions on some issues, but it doesn’t mean I hate you, or you hate me.
I may hate the way you do some things, but that doesn’t mean I hate you.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, yet I am told I cannot hate people, whether friend or foe. So here we have two instructions from scripture. One to hate evil. The other to love all people. So can I love people and hate the evil they may be engaged in? Of course. This must be possible.
How is it possible to have Christ, and hate people? How is it possible to be led by the Holy Spirit, who is Love, and hate people? How is it possible to have the fruit of the Spirit and hate people?
Hatred is of the flesh. If we hate we need to repent.
But, equally, we are called to preach the gospel in season and out, so we have to tell the truth as it is without compromise or contradiction.
Jesus told the truth
Did Jesus hate people because He preached the sermon on the Mount? Of course not, and yet it is one of the hardest lessons to live up to, and a set of values many of us would struggle with if we did not have the Spirit of Christ to lead us. Jesus preached these standards because he loved them enough to tell the truth.
Did Jesus hate the people who crucified Him? No, He asked the Father to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing, which was evil, and sin.
He loved them but did not condone their sin. For instance, the woman caught in adultery was not told by Jesus to continue in her sin, even when He said He did not accuse her. He told her to go and sin no more.
This was both a release and a rebuke, done in love, but it never ignored or permitted her sin. Rather, He forgave her sin, but made it clear it was unacceptable to continue in it.
He loved the person but hated evil.
You can love and disagree at the same time
I may disagree with your politics, or your theology, or your sexuality, but does this mean I hate you? No. That is a preposterous suggestion.
It is perfectly possible to love a person and disagree with them on a number of levels.
Haven’t you ever had friends you would die for who did things you would never agree with? Do all siblings stop loving one another because they disagree with a decision one might make? It may happen of course, but generally, as they say, blood is thicker than water and we maintain our love for each other even through the strongest of disagreements.
Is there a married person reading who has never disagreed with their spouse? Do you still love him or her, or did that disagreement mean you now hate each other? I hope not!
No, we have a covenant and a bond of love sealed with vows of eternal significance.
Warning is not hating
Another aspect of this, from a Biblical perspective, is how far you go in warning a person, who is on a certain course, of the risks or dangers if you observe that they have not considered the consequences. Do you love that person by warning them, or do you hate them?
In scripture we are told to ‘warn every man and teach every man in wisdom’. The gospel is truth, and contains certain warnings as well as inviting people into eternal life in Christ. Do I love you by not issuing truth or warning?
Paul says, when leaving the Ephesians, that he did not cease to warn them day and night with tears. He said to the Corinthians, “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.” He tells the Thessalonians to ‘warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, and be patient with all’.
Do we not warn our children if they are in potential danger, or correct them if they are in error, or instruct them in the right way? Do we love them or hate them when we bring warning, correction or instruction?
So this argument that telling the truth according to scripture equates to hatred is, in itself, wicked. To say that ministering the gospel even if it opposes a certain lifestyle is hating a person is a perversion of spiritual justice.
Christians cannot deny scripture any more than they can deny Christ. He is the Word made flesh. His Word is established in the heavens. It is the truth by which all men are saved, restored and sustained.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
He speaks to us by His Word. How then can Christians not reveal the Word of Truth by the Spirit of Truth? As Paul said we are debtors to the unsaved to preach the gospel and compelled to reach as many as we can with the truth.
Repentance is change
The entry into the kingdom is through preaching and repentance. Repentance is a change of heart which leads to a change of mind and change of direction. This means men have to be persuaded of another direction, that of walking with God and not against God.
This is not easy and will lead to disagreement along the way, but is it love or hate which tells the truth? No. We tell the truth because we love.
If I say I love my brother but fail to tell him the truth which may save his life I am a liar. It is not love to hold my tongue when the truth has the power to save him.
Telling the truth or giving warning often takes courage. This courage is best served by love. If I have love for my brother then the courage flows from loving him so much that will not shrink back from telling him the truth which will save him.
Jesus gave his life for the truth. He shed His blood to reach a world going in the wrong direction, which disagreed with Him, which ultimately killed Him. That takes real love and courage.
So we can disagree and yet still be brethren who walk in love.