Links Daily Devotional

Hating What Is Evil

Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. (Psalm 139:21-22, NIV)

Jim Furyk will tee it up again on Thursday, returning to the PGA Tour for the first time since his final round miss at the U.S. Open.

Most surprising in Furyk’s faltering stretch to close at The Olympic Club was his tee shot at the par-5 sixteenth, where he snap-hooked his ball deep into the trees. Furyk himself was surprised that the tee had been moved up an awkward 100 yards that day. But those of us watching were surprised that this man, this steady stalwart of driving straightness, could even hit that shot.

Which sets us up for another surprise: that we would ever declare any shot surprising when it is launched by a guy with that swing. We can all say it together when describing Furyk’s move at the ball: “Unorthodox!”

But as Jim Furyk reminds us, we can’t always expect our eyes to tell us the whole truth.

If you sit down for a cup of coffee these days with someone who wants to give you their reflections on the church or Christianity, you will often hear something like this: “Isn’t it all supposed to be about love? Aren’t we supposed to just love people like Jesus did?”

Here’s what makes it hard to respond to questions like that: Jesus did love people. All the way to dying a horrible death for them that they may be saved.

But we need to keep in mind what else Jesus did to people. He provoked them, rebuked them, challenged them, corrected them. He called some of them “hypocrites” and declared them to be sons of “your father the devil.” Even those he was most tender with he told to “sin no more” and restored them with haunting questions. This is the whole Jesus—the one based on a full reading of the gospels, not a nice idea.

Maybe the problem is that Jesus’ expression of love doesn’t line up with our expression of love. Or maybe it does, but we don’t want to admit it. Because my love may do this: rage against the intruder who would harm my children. Such rage does not look like love unless you understand whose side I’m on. And then you would allow me the fierce anger that protects my kids.

This is what allows us to read and understand the words of David in Psalm 139. His love of God translates into hatred toward those who would do damage to the Lord. It shows up again when Paul writes to the Romans, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). You cannot fully answer the question, “Do you love God?” until you have answered this one as well: “Do you hate the things that come against him? Do you abhor those who would bring him down?”

Jeff Hopper

June 26, 2012

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