There is something going on in church culture that I can’t stand. And it’s something I think we really need to change. And it is something we can change right now, in this moment.
We have a tendency to throw people away because they do or say or write one thing we don’t like.
One thing. A moment. A blog post. A book. A sermon. A prison stint. A bad habit. Or even something they didn’t do but we think they should have in a Monday morning quarterback kind of way.
Gone. That person is trash. I’m going to trash that person. For life. And hate them. For ever. I’m on Team Hate That Person for the rest of eternity.
Really? One thing.
We need to stop this. People of the King: We look like fools, not peacemakers.
The world knows us as a people of hatred. Last time I checked Jesus didn’t call us to hate each other.
Three examples from my life
- I don’t hate John Ortberg. I’ve never even met him. But I’ve had multiple conversations in the past few months where people asked me why I hate John Ortberg. It all goes back to a blog post I wrote in May 2010 where I disagreed with one thing he wrote on his blog. Really? That doesn’t mean I hate him. I never said I hate him. It means that he wrote something I disagreed with. That’s it. I’m not the president of his hate club. I’m reading one of his books right now. I’ve even bought and recommended his books in the past. I’m sure he’s a lovely person. I don’t hate him. It was one thing. Big deal? I’d still recommend his church. I’d still listen to him preach. Wait… I have still listened to him preach. Amazing, right?
- I know of few people in Churchland who have more haters than Tony Jones. People hate me because I’m an acquaintance of his and have recommended one of his books here on my blog. Really? You hate me because I am an acquaintance of someone you’ve never met or spoken to but hate because he wrote or said some things you don’t agree with. First, it’s dumb that you can hate someone like Tony. (If you’ve ever met him you’d find out he is unhateable.) Second, it is really dumb to hate me because I know him. This hate by association thing is illogical. What’s next? Are you going to hate me because I drive a Volkswagen and you’re a Kia guy? Lame.
- People think I hate C.S. Lewis. I don’t hate him. I think his writings are over-rated and over-quoted. But it’s not like I think he’s a heretic. (Though, interestingly, evangelicals who adore his writing would think he was a heretic if they actually compared what they believe next to what he believed. But most evangelicals don’t know what they believe… that’s another post for another day.) It’s not like I’ve banned his books from my home. I just don’t like it that he’s on the quote-a-matic. Need a quote? Don’t want it to be from the Bible? Just spin the wheel on my brand new C.S. Lewis Quote-a-Matic. What I’m really saying is that I wish more Christians would read wider. If I was going to hate him it would be because his middle name is Staples… I’m more of an Office Depot kind of guy.
Let’s face it. Every single person in the world could do something you aren’t going to like at one point in their lives. We are a broken people. We have a natural tendency to hurt and be hurt by people.
And yet we walk around with these little litmus tests all day. A guy cut me off on the freeway? I hate him and wish he were dead. I don’t know him but I hate him? Are you kidding me? That’s a person doing something you’ve done. And you hate them?
We need to bathe in grace. And we need to carry around an aura of grace in how we interact with the world.
Let grace be our cologne as we leave the house.
Let the world know us for our gracious attitude towards those we disagree with.
We need to adapt a mindset that says we can disagree with someone, even strongly, and never hate them.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”