Sunday, February 17, 2019

Love and Hate

(Middlebury, Ohio)

(This is a theological thought experiment.)

God loves you.

God does not love everything you do.

God hates sin.

If you sin, God hates what you are doing.

If you raped a little girl, God would hate that. That's good, right? You cannot begin to imagine a world where a perfectly loving God would say, "I love it when this man rapes little girls." Neither is God indifferent or neutral about this.

Does God love the rapist in their raping little girls? Yes. That... is... astounding. Does God love the raping? No. God hates it.

God's hatred is loving. This is because God IS love, and all God is and says and does and thinks and feels is love. When God hates, it is another manifestation of his love. God's hatred is logically consistent with his essential nature, which is love. Every lover is also a hater. This is an asymmetric relationship: every hater is not a lover.

Sometimes, God hates our worship. Francis Chan writes:

"There are times when God hates our worship. There are churches He wants shut down. So often we assume that as long as we show up to worship, God is pleased. The Bible tells a different story (Amos 5:21–24; Isa. 58:1–5; Mal. 1:6–14; 1 Cor. 11:17–30; Rev. 2:5; 3:15–16). 
Since the beginning of time, there has been worship God loves and worship He rejects. As I examine the state of the Christian Church today, I can’t help but think that God is displeased with many of the churches in America. 
I don’t say that lightly." (Chan, Letters to the Church, p. 24)

The gentle, fiery, bearded prophet Eugene Peterson said "the consumer church is an antichrist church." (See here.) Surely God hates anti-christ churches, right? Just because the name says "church" doesn't mean it's cool with God. 

More than Francis Chan, more than Eugene Peterson, way more than myself, God doesn't say things lightly. You don't really believe God loves everything that goes on in the name of "worship," do you?

God's grace and mercy are emergent properties of God's love. God IS love, in his being, in his essence. God's love gets expressed in his grace and mercy, and forgiveness, and countless other ways. When we sin, God is gracious and merciful to forgive our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

This was written for Christians (it's important to understand this).

If we claim to be without sin, 
we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 
If we confess our sins, 
he is faithful and just 
and will forgive us our sins 
and purify us from all unrighteousness.

This is awesome. But we are not to presume upon the gracious, merciful forgiveness of God. We are not to live as if sin is no big deal. And, we are not to sin so we can experience, again, the amazing grace of God. How weird would that be? The rapist would keep on raping, the abuser would keep on abusing, the adulterer would keep on adultering, the embezzler would keep on embezzling, for the sake of experiencing - over and over - the merciful, gracious forgiveness of God. That would be sick!

Paul writes (written for Christians - it is important to understand this):

What shall we say, then? 
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 
By no means! 
We are those who have died to sin; 
how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-2

If you love God, you will hate sin. You will grieve over your own sin. You will worship our God who is gracious, merciful, and forgiving.  

Real love hates what is unloving. This is why so many of us hate the act of abortion. Our hatred is loving. Love the sinner; hate the sin.

My two books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church