Different perspectives can easily become fuel for hatred if not carefully monitored. Topics often debated include how to save, ideas to address world hunger and global responsibility issues, national politics, morality and the question “should I wear a mask or not?” There will always be a difference of opinion, but when opinion gets poisoned with entitlement or a loss of objectivity, it gives birth to hatred.
Hatred has plagued society since God warned Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it,” (Genesis 4:7). Of course, warning ignored, Cain and Abel took a walk into a field and only one returned. What is the Christian response to hateful people? How do we create meaningful dialogue with them without reflecting their hatred with emotional outbursts or just ignore them and the real issues of our day?
Listen to Learn
Civil discourse, both in America and around the world has devolved into the pattern of the Jeopardy! game show. Someone attempts to make a statement and everyone else tries to finish their thought and ask questions assuming they know the answer and intent from the partial statement. This leads to misunderstanding and mistrust as people are not heard and receive quick or insensitive responses to very real pain in life.
As Christians, we need to refine the art of listening before we act (or worse, react) to someone’s statement. Our response is modeled by James who was very familiar with haters, as he was thought to be the half-brother of Jesus and the head of the church in Jerusalem. He said, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). When we learn the art of listening before we formulate an opinion or respond, it not only affords the speaker the respect of being clearly heard, it may cause us to pause and reassess our quick conclusions about them.
Cover With Kindness
We have all felt offense in our lives as we are confronted by ideologies of people that are foreign or opposed to our personal views. How should we respond? Jesus faced opposition while in a Samaritan village and his devoted disciples requested to call down fire from heaven to destroy them!
We run the risk of becoming the very type of person we are confronting unless we model the character of Christ. His rebuke was not to the offense of the Samaritans, but to his disciples that were acting as “haters from offense” responding to “haters from ignorance.” Romans 2:4 The verse states clearly that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance. If we are intentional about being kind, it may melt the coldest, most calloused heart.
Find Common Ground
It may appear that ideologies are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum, however, when we initiate vulnerability and attempt understand other their world, walls can crumble. Be careful not to minimize real hurt by trying to identify with every hurt. It is not a competition of who has it worse. There are fundamental building blocks of civilization in which you can find common ground. A Christian and an Atheist or a Muslim can find many things that are common ground and can become good friends.
This is echoed in I Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” We do not lower our values, we focus on the value of each person, beyond personal agendas. It has everything to do with the tone and posture in which we enter into dialogue and relationship with them. Remember people are not projects, they are people.
Heal the Hurt
Hatred is a product of hurt. Whether from injustice, discrimination, abuse, offense, control or all the “isms” that are causing personal pain today, they are hurts. The bystanders condescendingly state that it is perceived and not real. However, whether the injustice is real or perceived, the hurt it causes is genuine. Rather than formulating a convincing argument to crush hatred, we need to discern hatred from its source, suffering and hurtfulness. We can only find the source of hatred and bring healing when we heal the brokenness and hurt from continued pain in this broken world.
"We are Christ’s ambassadors to a hateful world, as we are lovingly reconciling people to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20 . Be part of the solution, not the problem.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.