“Anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” 1 John 2:11
I’m guilty of teasing out words to find a accurate one to excuse my sin. I would never say I “hate” someone because that’s wrong. Hate is a strong word. I would say I’m hurt by, angry at, or plainly avoiding someone. In the 1 John passage, the writer isn’t trying to say if you want to murder somebody you’re living in darkness. He’s saying if people sin against you or God and it makes you not want to be around them, you’re not in the light. I felt conviction as I read those words.
Acknowledging I don’t actually hate someone and recognizing what I’m truly feeling is a great first step in self-awareness. Acting self righteous because I’m above “hate” while I water down my sin with semantics is a terrible second step. It keeps me in darkness.
Feeling is important. Hurt and anger are not sin– they’re neutral responses. Anger is our notification that something is wrong. What we do with those responses are when we give into sin or not. We don’t want to sin in our anger– choose pride, unforgiveness or bitterness. We want to let seeds of love grow in our gardens, even if we water it with tears. Don’t be fake and shut down your heart. Acknowledge the hurt then learn how God heals and restores.
We don’t control how we feel but what we do with what we feel. Like a child being overwhelmed by emotion, we can’t stop what we feel but we can run to a nurturing present parent for help. God didn’t set us up for failure with our feelings. He makes things right and teaches us to make things right. He calls us to love.
My friend and I call the people who grate our nerves “grace growers.” Think of your grace growers. Where are you hurt? Why are you angry? What can you do to receive healing and not run away (from God or the person)? Whoever that person is, whatever they have done, your next step is to love. The step after that is to love again. Darkness will blind you and you won’t find your way forward unless you choose love. Love can look like connection, correction, or confrontation, but it will definitely look like patience, kindness, and hope.
My call to love is that you reflect on what you feel. Where there is hate or milder forms, ask God to replace it with love. Then reflect on how you are interacting with the people who are against you. Ask God to lead you in loving. We might win the battle, but we lose the war if we are without love.
If we want to live in a world full of light, we have to begin choosing to walk in the light and bring others with us. This has been a desire of mankind since at least when John was writing his letters.
I’ll leave you with passage from John 1 that describes Jesus who is Light, Life, and Love:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.