Romans 12:9: Hate-Filled Christians
- God’s hatred
- Our hatred
If I say the phrase, ‘hate-filled Christians’ we would probably think of some of the bigoted pastors who have featured on the news. For example, Steven Anderson, one reporter writes on his response to the 49 people gunned down in a Florida club last year, ‘The fundamentalist Christian pastor of an Arizona church is being condemned after he celebrated the deaths of 49 people at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando in a hate-filled rant posted on YouTube. Just hours after American’s worst mass shooting came to an end, Steven Anderson, pastor at Faithful Word Baptist Church in suburban Phoenix, unleashed a sickening tirade in which he said the victims deserved to die. ‘The good news is that there’s 50 less paedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and paedophiles,’ Anderson said in the video.’1 Today we want to talk about being hate-filled Christians but this is not the sort of hate that Paul is talking about in Romans 12:9, ‘Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.’
Last week we focused on how love is the headline of this list of duties, and how love is the key to our witness in the world today. Second to love Paul speaks about our holiness as he talks about hate in the same verse as he calls us to love. Paul calls us both to love and hate. This verse jars with our present age. We live in a sentimentalised, Disneyfied age where only positivity and warm eyed approval are associated with love. So then the worldview of the 21st century is bankrupt and finds a verse with the words ‘love’ and ‘hate’ in it like Romans 12:9 practically incomprehensible. The main problem is one of definitions. Our age is not able to define love as it has removed God who defines it and reduced it to lust or sentiment. But more than that, the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are amorphous and vacuous concepts with no meaning. This verse stands up against everything our present culture is about. Firstly, it tells us that we can know good and evil, that they are objective that they are not self-determined or culturally determined conceptions. Secondly, this verse calls upon us to discern, to judge, to divide and to stand for something and against something else. Thirdly, it calls for deep heart conviction and investment challenging the playful non-committing agnosticism of our pluralistic age.
We want to look at how we can be loving and hate filled Christians at the same time. We will divide our topic up into two parts, we want to look first at how God who is live also hates as our template, and then look at how hate has a place in our lives as well.