No one likes to be hated. I don’t like being hated, but hatred comes as naturally as breathing. One typical Facebooker just wrote me:
- Daniel, you are one of the worst people I have ever come across. You are a joke.
What horrible thing had I done that had elicited such a reaction? I defended traditional marriage! You might think, “People have differences of opinion all the time. You must have crossed the line!”
Not at all! Hating God and those who represent Him comes as certainly as Arctic ice. For one thing, we intuitively know that, if we haven’t received His mercy, we are condemned (Rom. 1:32; Rom. 2:14-15). The great reformer, Martin Luther, knew this in a very personal way. In his Commentary on the Book of Galatians, he wrote,
- Although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would satisfy Him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather murmured against Him.
Luther had felt himself condemned by a God he could never be good enough to please. He therefore hated Him. However, unlike Luther, most try to deny Him or at least to construct a more user-friendly God – one who validates them. Alas, it never works! As hard as they try to convince themselves that they are worthy, deserving, and righteous, their conscience continues to indict them, as Paul wrote:
- They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. (Romans 2:15)
Humanity can reject God, but they can’t escape their implanted conscience. It continues to cry, “guilt and condemnation.” What then to do? Suppress the indictment and promote self-righteousness through moral attainments! Nevertheless, the awareness of guilt, shame, and judgment remain. Therefore, this “awareness” must be hated and degraded, as Jesus explained:
- “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Jesus is the light, and we are His light bearers. We, therefore, must be discredited, as He explained:
- "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:18-20)
Those who hate the light not only hate Christ and those who represent Him. They also hate the light within! They will not find peace, because they are at war with themselves.
What then is the answer? Receiving the peace that comes as a gift of Christ’s mercy:
- "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Luther sought and eventually found that “rest”:
- I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which, through grace and sheer mercy, God justifies [forgives] us through faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through the doors into paradise.