Love In A Culture Of Hate
When we look at the world around us so much has changed in the last year. With the pandemic and politics, there has been so much anger, grief, and fear. People are hurting and that hurt stirs up discord and division. It’s amplified when so much is out of our control.We all face the temptation to react to the hate around us in ugly ways, but our mandate and calling is to love people like God loves us. When we react to the culture in the same way they do, we are missing the mark on how we are called to treat each other. We know we are called to love, and to show our kids how to love others too, but it’s so hard not to get caught up in the fray.
On this week’s podcast, former single parents, Robert Beeson, and Kimberley Mitchell, talk together with single mom, Marissa, about how we can maintain love and teach it to our kids in a culture of hate.
When one person introduces hate to a conversation or situation, it’s contagious. But love is contagious too. The difference is that hate seems to affect us in the amygdala – where our fight or flight response lives. It catches us off guard and can grab hold of us if we’re not careful.
Hate is often a reaction. Quick, thoughtless, visceral. Love on the other hand is an intentional response, a choice, a conscious decision of the will. Love is more powerful than hate but it can be harder to access and display. It takes deliberate effort to love and to avoid the culture of hate. We must choose to love in measured ways that go beyond what might be a knee jerk reaction. We must choose our response carefully.
What would happen if we all made a conscious decision not to react to hate but instead to respond in love?
Love through prayer
When we pray for someone, we are choosing to show love. Prayer deescalates hate. And prayer opens opportunities for connection. It’s almost impossible to react with hate after you’ve intentionally prayed for someone.
Love through actions
Loving is harder than hating. 1 John 3:18 “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” We don’t always have to use words to tell people we love them. We can show people we love them through what we do. We can pray for people and go out of our way to do things that are kind for them. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel and, if necessary, use words.” The posture of our heart needs to be kind and gentle and we need to walk in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Love without judgment
How we judge the motives of others betrays our hearts more than theirs. If I think you’re acting in hate, I need to check my heart to be sure I’m not judging you incorrectly. We are not to set the standard of our behavior by what somebody else does. We must choose who we are going to be and what we are going to do apart from anyone else. Even if we’ve been wronged, we still have a choice in how we respond. Love acts responsibly, from a place of ownership of our actions, no matter what others do. We must separate ourselves from their wrongdoing and remain true to who we know we need to be regardless.
Love with humility
Pride can sometimes drive us to have to prove a point. This is not love. Love is humble. Even when we are angry, we are called to love. God says, “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires.” And in Deuteronomy 23:7, God tells the Israelites how they were supposed to respond to the ones who enslaved them. Even after all they had endured, God said, “Do not despise an Edomite because the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian because you once resided as foreigners among them.” God commanded the Israelites not to hate them. He knew that love would do more for the Israelites than it would do for the Egyptians. God knew that what He could put into their hearts, that love, was a gift to the Israelites, not a gift to the Egyptians.
If you’re in a situation that is abusive, you are not called to accept being harmed. But as believers, we are called to serve and to love others. Loving someone else is as much a gift to ourselves as it is for the person we are choosing to love. When we don’t hold hate in our hearts, we are the beneficiaries of God’s goodness.
Love to experience freedom
Loving someone isn’t forgetting the wrong that was done. Love doesn’t take away the horrendous things that have happened. But the gift is love is freedom. Choosing love gives us freedom from what was oppressive. And it gives the other person freedom from our condemnation and hate. When we think of someone that hurt us, and feel angry, we must remember that they are loved by God just as we are, and we are called to love like He does.
And, God’s love fills the gaps that we need filled. He fills those empty hurting places that were never filled by the person we may be angry with now. God is our defender. There are times to speak but there are times to be silent and let love do the work. We don’t have to agree with someone else to listen to them. If someone feels heard, we diffuse their anger. And when we love, we diffuse hate.
Remember, too, that hate costs us something. Hate is taxing to our system. When we carry around anger and frustration toward someone, they don’t care about it. They probably aren’t even aware of how we feel. That hate is a weight we carry around and it’s exhausting. Make the choice to love instead so you don’t have to carry that burden anymore. We sometimes think love costs us something because we sacrifice our pride and our entitlement when we choose love, but hate is much more costly. It can cost us friendships, connection, and freedom. What will you choose and what will you teach your kids about love?
How do we love in a culture of hate?
Pray for people.
Remember that hate is more costly than love because it destroys relationships.
Choose your battles. Some things aren’t worth fighting about.
Listen more than you speak.
For further reflection: What is hardest for you in as you try to walk in love in a culture of hate? How do you show love to others in today’s culture?
Single parents, if you want to explore this idea more, join one of our online groups meeting 6 days a week. As you walk the journey of solo parenting, we want to offer encouragement and hope any way we can. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups, Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@soloparentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single-parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com. Questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.