« Back

Love or Hate?

Posted on May 2, 2021

See on YouTube


Love or Hate?

Acts 8:26-40

Psalm 22:25-31

1 John 4:7-21

John 15:1-8

When is it right to love and when is it right to hate? Is it even right to ever have hatred or show hatred? Hatred is defined as having intense dislike or ill will. It is more than just disliking someone or something. Hate is an intense feeling or emotion that goes beyond just mere dislike. I think that all too often this word is used today without really understanding what it really means. Hate is such a big topic in our society and unfortunately it seems that the more we talk about or the more we try to assign or define hateful words or actions the more hatred we breed. However, we are called to something the exact opposite of hatred and is just as intense but on the opposite spectrum. Love is also meant to be an intense feeling or emotion. However, as time goes on it seems that the word has lost some of its intensity and passion of this emotion as we once held so dear.

In 1 John 4:7-21 we are told that if we hate our brother or sister then the love of Christ is not in us. Basically, how can we follow Jesus if we hate others around us? John says that “this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Because God loved us then we ought to love one another as well. “If we love one another God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” This love drives out all fear and hatred. Therefore, “whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. How can we love someone whom we have never seen and yet not love those whom we can see? John says that we are given this command from God, “anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

What is interesting is that in Luke 14:26 Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple.” But wait a minute, I thought that unless we love father, mother, brother and sister, wife and children then we cannot love God either. Which is it then? Jesus here is talking about the cost of following him and being his disciple. For he goes on to say, “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” What does it mean to carry the cross? At the moment that he carried this cross he was hated by the world and every step he took was one of pain and anguish. People ridiculed him and made fun of him. Yet he willingly continued to carry all of this hatred upon himself because he loved those who hated him.

How many of you when you decided to follow Jesus had to really consider the cost of following him? How many of you were burdened with what it really meant for the changes that would be required upon your life if you decided now to follow Jesus? We are so privileged to live in this country that it seems that we have little or now cost or burden to follow Jesus but only love, freedom, and healing from our old past to look forward to. However, let us consider others in other parts of the world that really must consider the cost of being a disciple when then decision is put before them. In Muslim nations or homes the cost is your family and your home. A child could be cast out of their family or even killed for deciding to follow Jesus. This is hatred for Christ followers is a deterrent to keep people from deciding to abandon the Muslim faith. In the first God’s not Dead movie there was a young college girl who grew up in a Muslim home but at some point, in her life she came to know Jesus and had been keeping it secret from her family. When her father found out he threw her out of the house and their lives. This is the cost of following Jesus. One must love Jesus more than they love father and mother, brother and sister, or wife and children. The reason being is that the cost of following Jesus could mean that you could lose them in the process. For some it might be the loss of family, for others the loss of their group of friends, and others this could mean the loss of their own life. All of this at the cost of following Jesus. Yet there are hundred and thousands every year that weigh in on this cost and choose to follow Jesus anyway.

So, which is it then? Are we to love or are we to hate? The answer is that we are to love Jesus more and that means that we too may have to take up our cross and follow Jesus and take upon ourselves the hatred of others who we love. It is not that we really hate our mother and father, brother and sister, or wife and children. It is that we love Jesus more and are willing to give all of them up for the love of Christ. In return we love them back by praying for them and hope that they too will decide to follow Jesus. However, though none go with us we still must follow. We must leave the world behind us and put the cross before us.

I will say it again the we are privileged to live where we live because I think that very few of us had to pay such a heavy price to follow Jesus. However, I think we can learn from those around the world who do pay the price. We must have empathy for them and pray for them. Sometimes we might ask ourselves why it is so difficult on the mission field to bring people to Jesus. Why don’t they just decide to follow Jesus once they hear the good news. The reason is that there may be a price to pay and they must answer for themselves whether that price is worth the sacrifice.

In John 15:1-8, Jesus says that he is the vine and we are the branches. Unless we remain in him the vine then we that branches cannot bear fruit. Jesus says “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” If we remain in him and yet are not bearing fruit, he doesn’t just cut us off as a worthless dead branch. No, he prunes us and takes away the deadness that is hindering us from being fruitful so that we can begin to grow fruit. Only we ourselves can cut ourselves off from the vine. However, the will of the father is for us to bear much fruit. We bear this fruit in love by loving one another.

The question then is do we love or do we hate? I think that the real answer is that in reality we never really hate but only love. This perfect love then drives out the fear of the hatred that we may have to take upon ourselves from those whom we love. The truth is that these folks that weigh in the cost to be a follower of Christ don’t really hate their families. They love their families but they must love Jesus more because choosing to love him could mean losing their family. However, this fruit show ourselves to be the disciples of Christ. My prayer for you today is that you will understand the real cost of what it means to follow Jesus and that you can also live out your lives as true followers that share in the burden of being a follower. That you may also pray for and support those who have paid the price and have lost everything in order that they might gain eternity with the Lord. This what it means to have intense love and emotion for Jesus Christ.