We love those whom we want to love, and we hate those whom we want to hate. Reasons why we love someone are real, but love itself has a greater reality than those reasons. Love is its own justification. It’s different with hate.
Hate knows that it’s unreal, that it’s an intrusion of nothing into something, and without an army of reasons to justify it, it can’t support itself. Once we’ve decided to hate, we have to work very, very hard, making up reasons to justify it.
Reasons we can find, reasons we can fabricate, whatever it takes to prove our hate, to justify ourselves for hating, we make the effort. It doesn’t matter that we pay a very high price. We’re even willing to stake our lives on it, when we want to hate.
Who goes searching through the Bible to look for proof texts to justify his love for his neighbor? Sure, the words are there, even voiced as commands, ‘You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 20:37-39).
The passages enjoining love do nothing for our ego. They neither magnify nor diminish us in our own eyes; they are simply there to be followed, and if we want to love, we don’t need them to justify ourselves. Love is its own justification.
When we hate, our ego is like a drowning man grappling for a plank to hang on to, and if he finds enough planks, he feels safe. So passages enjoining not hate, but providing what we think are reasons to hate others, are found, and we cling to them.
This is exactly the kind of behavior that has given Christianity a very bad taste in the mouths of those who are haters ‘in the second degree.’ They justify their hate of Christians not by bible proof texts, but by the behavior of the haters ‘in the first degree.’
The haters ‘in the first degree’ carry signs that they say speak for God, for righteousness. They say they are His witnesses, but I doubt very much that the god for whom they are witnesses is any different than the god of terrorists. Hate is hate, and it cripples.
It doesn’t matter what name we place on love or on ourselves when we love: it is obvious to all what we are, and what we are doing. They may not like us, they may not like our love, and they may persecute us for it, as did pagan Rome, but they can’t deny it.
It doesn’t matter what name we place on our hate or on ourselves when we hate, either: it is obvious to all (but ourselves) what we are (for hate blinds those who practice it). Even the world, all on its own, can raise itself above hate sometimes, though not ingloriously.
But we know where love comes from, and wherefrom is hate. ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God’ (1 John 4:7).
‘Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother’ (1 John 3:12).
Yes, we love those we want to love, and hate those we want to hate. The better way is to hate no one at all, but to love our neighbor as God has loved us, for that is truly the yoke that Christ calls ‘easy’ and the burden that He calls ‘light.’