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Sunday, 27 October 2013

'DOES THE BIBLE PROMOTE HATRED?'

Rev. Canon George Sinclair
by Rev. Canon George Sinclair                           
 Pastor of the Church of the Messiah, Ottawa, ON.
 www.messiahchurch.ca 

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(Podcast of CFRA broadcast on Sunday, October 27th, 2013)  
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Broadcast Notes:
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Does the Bible Promote Hatred?’
 


Some people say that the Bible promotes hatred.

Look at Psalm 139, verses 19-22:

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;

    your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.

Then the psalmist ends with (v. 23-24):

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting!

It’s interesting that the psalmist, David, recognizes that there is part of him – the hatred-- that is not of God, so he asks God to search his heart and lead him in the way everlasting.
I ultimately believe that the Bible contains the most wisdom (of any book) in dealing with hatred.

Realize that hatred is a human problem, not a Christian problem. If you acknowledge that hatred is a human problem, the question becomes a different one.

The question then becomes: Does your philosophy, or ideology, or religion or in fact, the Bible lead on a path of wisdom toward others who are different, and guide us to avoid hatred of other people who are different?

Does it ignore hatred? Does it deny hatred? Does it inflame hatred? Does it rationalize hatred?

Or, does it provide wisdom and maybe some type of solution into hatred?
The Bible is a profoundly wise book and gives profound wisdom. Even this text is an example of wisdom.

If you use this text to rationalize your anger, if someone cuts you off when you’re driving or steps in front of you at the Tim Horton’s coffee line-up, then you have a real problem, because this text is not about that.

But, are there any types of social contexts where human interaction creates emotions that make some sort of sense like that?

What about some of the horrendous abuses, where violent acts of people against other people, or regimes against other regimes, occur?

Here’s the thing: The Bible fully- addresses the depth and breadth of all human emotions.
The Bible doesn’t teach ‘care bear’ Christianity. The Jesus way is not just for the successful. It’s not just for the healthy. It’s not just for the young. It’s not just for those who live in safety and security.

It’s also for people who have really good reasons to be angry. And where there is a person who is abused and she, or he, can read that text and say, “God knows this about me, too! God knows this about me. He sees!”

Too many of us, when our church portrays ‘care-bear’ Christianity and when really, really, hard things take place in our lives, we think we have no place in the Christian church, or in following Jesus, because everyone around us just seems to be vanilla and Teflon, and successful, and well adjusted; and look at us; look at me!

So, the Bible does more than this. At one level it shows it’s aware of the depths and breadth of human emotion, but it also gives a whole-world view to start to restrain it and make sense of it, and even to redeem it.

If you go back and read the whole Psalm , it’s not saying that I should go out and deal with all these people. It’s asking that God deal with it.

That very, very aspect of putting it in God’s hands is, in fact, a profound protection from acting out of hate.

If you meditate upon this, it’s asking God to do something, not us. It’s not saying, “Because of all these things, I’m going to take my sword and take my gun, and I’m going to deal with this.” It’s actually, by acknowledging the depth, and calling out to God to do something in a “way of everlasting life” is in, and of, itself, a profound check on acting out of anger.

But, the Bible also teaches something else, which is a profound check, and it’s the part just before the part we read, (verses 19-22). Read with me, if you will, verses 13-18, where the psalmist, David, is talking with God:

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.

Here’s what this teaches: I am known of God from conception. So, from conception, to now, I have had a dignity and a value as a human being, regardless of what apparent regime, race, ideology, and institutions say about me. This Psalm is telling me that I am known and loved by God from conception, regardless of what others think or say about me.

This has profound meaning for those who labour and live under the hatred of others. It’s a profound comfort because when we labour under hatred, we can start to feel shame, as though there is something fundamentally wrong with us, or about us. So this is a powerful healing perception about the fact that we have this dignity as a human being that comes from God.

But, it’s also a profound check, because it means that the person hating us ALSO has a dignity and a value.

It’s one of the reasons Christians are told to pray for our enemies, (Matthew5:44).
This Psalm tells us even more about God, in Verses 1-12:

139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night”,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.

There is this wonderful sense of God’s presence and peacefulness and of His beauty and affection and delight in all-seeing and all-present. Hatred easily overwhelms us, which is why it’s one of the things we should avoid, which we normally need to repent of and seek God’s help.

But, in this Psalm, we’re asking God to be the one who’s going to act, then, God is forming our response. And, if God is forming our response, then he is forming it out of this whole perspective and world view.

But, there’s also a text here that speaks about the cross. This text talks about how God wonderfully knows us from the time of our conception to the moment of our death, and beyond. And, so what this is saying is that it gives us a real insight as to what Jesus accomplishes for us on the Cross: that when Jesus dies for us on the Cross, he’s not just dying for the “me” that I know now; He’s not just dying for me and the things that I remember about my past, but when He dies for me, He knows and sees me from my conception to my death. And, when He takes upon himself the doom that I deserve, and offers me the destiny that He deserves, He sees the full total depths of me from the moment of my conception to my death.

That’s what this Psalm is all about. This Psalm is saying that God has this pure knowledge of us and it means that it is a profound help in our deep emotions, about our past, the things that we don’t like, that we hate, that we find abhorrent, because, if Jesus knows all about this –nothing surprises him—and still he loves us, and still he died upon the Cross; still He wants us to come to him and offers us to take upon himself, my doom, your doom, and offer us His destiny. That’s what he wins for us on the Cross.

Jesus dies for whole me, from my conception to death, from the depths to the shallows, with nothing left out.

Here’s a prayer we can pray, in closing:

Dear God, Help me to be so gripped by the story of Jesus’ death for me, that I grow in a humble, trusting knowledge of the greatness of Jesus, to save me immediately, eternally, completely, perfectly, and unfailingly.


 Rev. Canon George Sinclair
Church of the Messiah
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:
http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/6/16824/good_news_076_oct27.mp3

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