Hating Your Brother

Why should you not hate your brother? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

He hurt Allie.

That’s all you need to know at the start. I won’t go into who it was or what he did, but he really hurt Allie. I was at an Evangelical Philosophical Society meeting and I saw someone sitting in front of me. They looked like him from behind.

I had rage.

Honest rage.

When I left later, I saw that it wasn’t him, and thankfully I didn’t do anything the whole time. Later at that event, I’m hearing Clay Jones speak. Clay Jones is a wonderful apologist who talks so much about the problem of evil, and in this talk he gives me an insight that has stuck with me today. He looks at this section in the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus giving a cost-benefit analysis.

Let’s look at what Jesus says.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Why is it that you shouldn’t hate your brother in your heart?

Because it means that if you hate him and the chance came up and you thought the benefits outweighed the costs, you would murder him.

I spoke to Clay that evening and we arranged to talk later on together. It’s something that has stuck with me. I am tempted many times with a hatred for someone. If I do that though, that hatred really doesn’t do anything to the person. It just hurts me.

If I allow it to foster, it becomes a poison that tears away at my own soul. I was created to love and be loved. If I live with that kind of hatred, then I am doing the exact opposite of my purpose.

This doesn’t mean that we need to make a statement that all hate is wrong. It’s not. There are things you should hate. If you love all people, you should hate racism. If you love women, you should hate rape. If you love animals, you should hate animal cruelty. The reason you should hate something, is because you truly love something that you ought to love.

What about calling your brother a fool? Didn’t Jesus call the Pharisees fools? Didn’t Paul refer to the Galatians as foolish? Yes on both counts. It depends on the nature of your heart.

Often times when guys get together, one thing they do to one another is trash talk, especially if they play games together. Do they really mean to hurt one another with the insults? Not at all. It’s just expected behavior. In some ways, when men insult one another, it can actually be a way of bonding and showing love to one another.

Some insults aren’t like that. Some insults are designed to destroy. Not only destroy, but destroy the person. Now I am not one who rules out insults in argumentation. It’s hard to do that when you see it being done regularly in Scripture. I am one who says that you need to check your heart.

If you have honest hatred for the person you are answering or evangelizing, then you need to step away from that. You can hate the system all you want to. In fact, you should. I hate atheism, but I should love atheists. I hate Islam, but I should love Muslims. I hate Mormonism, but I should love Mormons, etc.

Jesus is telling us to check our hearts. Do we honestly have hatred for the person that we are talking to. Left unchecked, that hatred will turn into murder if it is allowed to reach full fruition. The only thing holding us back is fear of consequences.

Note also that Jesus when doing these things is not downplaying the Law. He is seriously upping the ante. Many of us can go through life very easily without murdering someone. That’s not much of an accomplishment. To deal with the hatred in your heart? That’s huge.

And if you want to follow the way of Jesus, you have to work to do the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is God Petty?

Is it wrong for God to expect us to worship Him? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I found myself in a discussion about the question of how can people be happy in Heaven knowing that they have loved ones in Hell. As the discussion went on, I focused on one point which got us to a different area. I pointed out that if Jesus rose from the dead, then Christianity is true and there is an answer to the question. If not, then it’s just trivia. I could even be willing to say “I don’t know” but it would be foolish to say “I’m abandoning Christianity because while I’m convinced Jesus rose from the dead, I don’t have an answer on this question.”

Instead, we wound up discussing if God is petty or not. After all, God expects us to love Him and worship Him. Wouldn’t a loving God just give everyone a break? Life has enough suffering as it is. Isn’t it petty to have the whole turn or burn mindset?

Keep in mind, my view of Heaven and Hell is quite different. Still, it is a question we all have to deal with. Even those who profess conditional immortality would have to answer how it is they can be happy if they know they have loved ones who they will never ever see again.

Yet now, I want to focus on the whole charge of God being petty, because it is something we come up against. On the surface, it does look that way. God wants us to worship and adore Him. If we don’t, we are cast aside from Him. Loved ones are separated in that sense. How does this make sense?

Part of our problem is we have a view of God where we just make God a big person. He is just like us, except He has the omni-attributes. If you’re going to study this, you need to realize that God is very different. Whatever the view of God is we have in our mind, it’s in some way inadequate.

Second, we need to ask people where they are getting their theology from. If you make claims about God, how do you know this? If you think God is fair and loving and things of that sort, how is this known? Any claim about knowledge of God needs to be backed. If one wants to turn the question to me, it’s my position that if Jesus rose from the dead, He’s someone worth listening to and I do believe the Gospels are reliable.

So let’s look at the question. For one thing, at the start, Christians were always exclusive. This was even the case when they gained nothing from it. They were on the outs with the Roman Empire and with the Jewish people as well because they said Jesus was the true Lord of the universe.

We often think love cannot be exclusive. This is false. Not only is love exclusive, it has to be exclusive. If you love anything, you will exclude that which is contrary to it. This is one reason I don’t like “hate” being described always as a negative. Hate is not always bad. There are plenty of things we ought to hate. We ought to hate the great evils that we see in the world.

When it comes to the question of God, there are benefits for loving God. There is nothing wrong with this. If a man and a woman love each other, then in a marriage bond, there are benefits they share that others don’t have. There is nothing mercenary about that.

Likewise, if you do not have that commitment, then you do not get the privileges of the commitment. Other people, including other men, can love my wife in some sense, but they are not to love her in the exclusive sense that I do and only I get the benefits of that kind of love. If they had made a covenant instead, they would be having those privileges instead of me.

There are also costs in the case of God. If one rejects the revelation of Jesus knowingly, then one is in essence not only saying Jesus is a liar, but saying that God has not revealed Himself in Jesus. That’s a big claim and one had better be right on. On the other hand, if someone like myself is wrong, then I am guilty of the worst kind of blasphemy against God. I have to be willing to accept that.

If one does not accept God’s way, then one is going their own way. It is a rejection of God. If they don’t want to be with God, then God will honor their request. He will not force Himself on them.

Many of us also assume that we are innocent. It’s not that way at all. No one of us lives a perfect life. We all know that. We all know ways we can do better. God could have just been just and said none of us will be with Him for eternity. He did not.

We also have to ask that if God is going to be loving and forgive all, then what about evil here? Will there never be justice? Do those who lived their lives consistently going against God get all the benefits of those who did the exact opposite?

Once again, all of this depends on if Jesus rose from the dead. If He didn’t, then we could be discussing trivia. We might just have to see if another religion is true or if God revealed Himself some other way or just hope for the best. It is a tough situation then.

But if Jesus did rise from the dead, then we do indeed have great hope. We are forgiven and we will be in the presence of God. Not only that, all the suffering we undergo will be redeemed one day. God does not waste our sufferings in this life. Death itself will be overcome.

That is good news.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Bad Thinking On Love And Hate

Is love ever wrong and hate ever right? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a society that loves to talk about love. We also see one that hates any mention of hate. Unfortunately, we do not really think about those terms. What does it mean to love someone? What does it mean to hate someone? We live in a world where it is assumed that if something is love, then that is something that is good, and if something is hate, then that is something that is bad. You can hear slogans like “Love is never wrong.” You can also see groups such as the anti-bullying group “We Stop Hate.” Is there a problem with this language?

Why yes there is because in fact some things you should not love and some things you should hate. Things you should hate you should hate proportionally and the same with things you should love. Let’s look at hate for instance. The group “We Stop Hate” is out there wanting to stop bullying. Question. Do they love bullying? Of course not. What would they think of someone who loved bullying? That person has a problem. In fact, it could be that “We Stop Hate” actually hates bullying. That’s why they want to stop it.

What about love? We’re often told love is never wrong. Well actually, it is. In fact, loving good things can be wrong if you don’t love them properly. Food is meant to be a good thing God created and we should delight in it, but what happens if you love food too much? Well that’s one way that gluttony exists. Married men, like myself, tend to love sex, but what happens if you love sex more than you love your wife who you have sex with? Well if that’s the case then you’re actually using her. I love games and some other guys love sports. What happens if you love those more than your responsibility to your wife and as a Christian, to your God? Then you have a problem and that is a form of idolatry.

We’re often not even clear on what love is. Technically, you don’t love things. You like them. Love is reserved more for persons. It is good to love your family, your friends, your pets, and your God. What love really means is to seek the good of the other for the sake of the other. This can produce powerful feelings and emotions, but love is not one of these things. Our world often thinks that if we lose that feeling or emotion, then the love is gone. In fact, this can lead us to a deeper love. The tragedy is many of us still want the old way of love. The same happens with our relationship with God. Many times God does seem to withdraw His presence. He is wanting us to walk deeper with Him and come to know Him not just through what we feel about Him, but to know Him as He is in Himself. It does not mean that the feelings and emotions will not return. It means though that we are to live on a deeper level. We cannot treat the feelings as if they are mandatory or as if God owes them to us.

I also happen to agree with Lewis who told us that you cannot love something too much. You just love a greater good too little. Suppose you fear you love something more than God, which should be a concern for all Christians. If so, then the goal should not be to love the object you love more than God less. It is to love God even more than that. If you are a sex addict, it is not your goal to love sex less. It is your goal to love sex properly and in ways that are not wrong and to love God more knowing that if you love God more, you will in fact be putting sex in its proper place.

As for hate, if we love something, we will naturally hate something else. We will hate that which is not good for that which we love. Suppose my wife got cancer. I am not going to say then that I love cancer. Not at all. I will hate it because I love my wife and I hate anything that is opposed to her good. The question is not if we are going to hate anything or if we are going to love anything. We will do both and we must do both. The question is are we going to hate the right things the right way and love the right things (Or persons rather) in the right way?

And what way is that? If we are Christians, we must look to God and get our loves and hates in line with His. If He loves something, so should we. If He hates something, so should we. Whatever is on top of His love list should be on top of ours and whatever is lesser on His should be lesser on ours.

Let’s move past this idea that all love is good and all hate is bad. It’s not. If we want to be informed thinkers and speakers and Christians, we need to recognize distinctions. Let’s get our own loves and hates in order.

In Christ,
Nick Peters