“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
In such a polarized society, it’s easy to slip away from the balance that God calls us to have in our daily lives. We become so focused on defending the doctrine of His Word, we tend to respond with hatred. Even if our actions are not explicitly vulgar, we do not always possess loving thoughts.
I will be the first to admit I’m guilty of this. For example, there are times when I become annoyed with posts I see on social media, and find myself resisting the urge to leave a comment. Even though I am successful in these attempts, there are still times when my thoughts become hateful.
In these moments, it’s important for me to not dwell on these thoughts, for they can lead to a change of heart. John warns of the dangers that hatred presents in 1 John 3:15: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”
Upon reading this for the first time, it may sound irrational to accuse a hateful person of being a murderer. However, there is a famous quote from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace that puts this correlation into context. When meeting young Anakin Skywalker for the first time, Yoda warns him:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Considering this quote, it becomes clear hate is what leads to becoming a murderer. When left unchecked, the seeds of hate desensitize a person and fill them with wickedness. While physical murder may never take place, the desire for spiritual damnation can easily fill a person’s thoughts and result in a mindset that is the exact opposite of one filled with the fruits of the spirit.
While I believe it’s important to defend scriptural doctrine, I also believe it’s equally important for us to do so in a loving manner. Too often, believers will get into heated arguments that are merely prideful competitions over whom is the “better Christian.” As it was for the Pharisees, these attempts to prove themselves as righteous are futile because there is no reflection of God’s love.
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2