Only love can drive out hate | Faith | The Press and Standard

by | November 20, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: November 22, 2016 at 7:36 am

For 18 grueling months, the world watched as a campaign and an election filled with mudslinging, bitterness and ugliness surged far beyond what we have ever witnessed in this country.
During the course of writing my column before now, I chose not to talk about the election because I felt that my readers needed inspiration of another kind, and that is what I shared. However, since the election is now over, thank the Lord, I felt led and compelled to write about its aftermath, because I have not seen so much hate as I saw since I was a little girl.
My God. I, along with so many others, am deeply concerned and disappointed. Since the results hit the airways, the cycle of hate seems to have reached an all-time high. Some were jubilant about the results; others were not so ecstatic. However, that does not mean that people have to hurl insults and actions that represent such hate. Some of this hate is a direct result of the inflammatory rhetoric spewed forth during the course of the campaigning.
We have to remember that young people were watching, and they still are. The United States Constitution gives citizens the right to have peaceful protests, so there is no crime being committed for wanting to do this. However, some of the protests have been anything except peaceful.
Since the results, many people have been threatened because of the color of their skin, religious preference, political party and the like. What has appalled me even more is seeing how racist views have surfaced to the point of people being physically attacked, called all sorts of derogatory names, antagonized to the point of feeling unsafe. Hatemongers have showed up on college campuses and various other places threatening people and/or hanging hateful signs and leaving behind trails of graffiti. Some of the comments on social media have been no better.
This has got to stop. The sad part about all of this is that some of the perpetrators of this hate proclaim Christianity. What? God said, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen,” (1 John 4:20 ESV). Further 1 Corinthians 14:7 (ESV) states, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
What has happened is that we have become the “Divided States of America” instead of the “United States of America.” We are a culture that has pushed and bred hate for a long time, and it continues in a vicious cycle. People are tired of this hate and want to see the love that Jesus talked so much about in the Word.
The president-elect is going to have to take the lead in alleviating this problem. There is no getting around it. In the words of one of the greatest civil rights leaders who ever lived, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” No matter who you are and what you believe, if you are not going to be a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.
I leave you with this story, “How Long can You keep Hate in Your Heart?” about a game that a teacher used to teach her students a lesson about hate.
“A kindergarten teacher had decided to let her class play a game. The teacher told each child in the class to bring along a plastic bag containing a few potatoes. Each potato will be given a name of a person that the child hates. So the number of potatoes that a child will put in his/her plastic bag will depend on the number of people he/she hates, she explained.
“So when the day came, every child brought some potatoes with the names of the people he/she hated. Some had two potatoes, some three, while some had up to five potatoes. The teacher then told the children to carry the potatoes in the plastic bag with them wherever they went for one week.
“Days passed, and the children started to complain due to the unpleasant smell let out by the rotten potatoes. Besides, those having five potatoes also had to carry heavier bags. After one week, the children were relieved because the game had finally ended.
“The teacher asked: ‘How did you feel while carrying the potatoes with you for one week?’ The children let out their frustrations and started complaining of the trouble that they had to go through having to carry the heavy and smelly potatoes wherever they went.
“Then the teacher told them the hidden meaning behind the game. She said: ‘This is exactly the situation when you carry your hatred for somebody inside your heart. The stench of hatred will contaminate your heart, and you will carry it with you wherever you go. If you cannot tolerate the smell of rotten potatoes for just one week, can you imagine what is it like to have the stench of hatred in your heart for your lifetime?’”
As you can see, hate is too big of a burden to bear! Have a wonderfully blessed week of loving others, and never leave home without Him!

(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at abrightcolumn@lowcountry.com)

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