Tuesday, October 4, 2016

October 4: The Burden of Hate

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” - Matthew 5:43-48

So often Jesus’ command, “love your enemy,” is understood as a burden -- I can stay clear of my enemies, I can even be kind to my enemies, but love them…well that’s a rather tall order. But when we consider the alternative to loving our enemies we quickly find not loving them is even more burdensome. As followers of Jesus we are called to transformation from the worldly ways of bullying, hostility, violence, and selfishness to that of understanding, peace, justice and love. Harboring anything other than love for anyone, especially our enemies, does not lead to transformation, in fact it leads to the opposite, destruction. Sadly, violence and abuse are realities in our world. We can chose to hate abusers, and in the short term, it may even be easier to hate them, but harboring hate in our hearts will only weigh us down, making it impossible to truly seek and establish justice and wholeness. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “I have decided to stick with love…Hate is too great a burden to bear." I believe this quote gets to the heart of what Jesus is teaching in Matthew 5. We can respond to abuse and abusers with hate and hostility but that simply feeds the flames of injustice and hate. Hate cannot be used to abolish hate, the only way to overcome abuse, bullying, violence, and hate, is love. Loving our enemies is not a burden, on the contrary, loving our enemies is essential in liberation from our enemies.

God may we be grateful we are called to love and not burdened by hate.

Rev. Daniel H. Kovaly
is a graduate of the University of Houston with a degree in Music Composition and Phillips Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He is an Ordained Disciples minister and is currently Senior Minister at Bullittsville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Burlington, Kentucky.
Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit  disciplesjustice4children.org and docfamiliesandchildren.org. 

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