“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”~Martin Luther King, Jr.
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20/ ESV)
We name cats after our favorite authors (our dog came to us bearing a registered identifier that stuck). Our first was Hemingway. He died tragically when a pack of wild dogs came through and he got in the way. Next came Maya Angelou, and most recently Harper Lee. Our choice of monicker is less random than one might think. We select based on the twin criteria of literary quality and cultural influence. Angelou is known primarily because of her work, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” One of her most poignant quotes is particularly apropos for a culture in turmoil: “Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world, it it has not solved one yet.”
Hatred always garners the most headlines. One would be hard pressed to identify the root cause of any evil in our world as lying at the feet of anything other than hatred. It may be hatred expressed toward another individual or collection of them, or it may be acted out upon ourselves; ultimately, all hate is an angry fist thrust at the face of God. Dr. Ross Rhoades insists, “It’s the nonchalance of faith that impedes revival.” While I do not disagree with him, drill down further and you will find hatred at the core of all spiritual dullness. This should not surprise us. Scripture states matter-of-factly that “God is love;” therefore, anything individually or culturally that moves in an opposing direction smacks of its antithetical quality, namely hate. I am not immune; I have hated before, each damning episode marching me farther away from God and myself. Hatred may postpone, but it never resolves anything. Hate erodes the foundation of all relationships-respect. Respect is not luxury; it is essential to humanity and respect is nothing more than the earthly reflection of divine love. Love looks beyond wounds to discern sacred possibility in others. Love is the only hope for anyone, starting with myself.
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8 | NRSV)