Last week, I began talking about the crash course in fatherhood I have gotten over the past three months and how that has caused me to understand God in more practical ways that I ever had before. You can read all about it over here. I also mentioned last week that there was a second “practical revelation” I had from God.
Prior to becoming a father, I believed hate and love to be opposites. I, wrongly, understood love to be a good thing and hate to be a bad thing. The problem was I called love good and hate bad without ever applying them to a direct object. The moment my daughter was born, I loved her and it wasn’t long after that I quickly realized that if I wanted to love her well, I had to hate. If I was going to love my daughter, I would have to hate anything that would take her away from me, hurt her, or threaten her safety in any way.
I often hear people talk about how loving Jesus was and how he accepted everyone. Jesus didn’t hate anyone or anything. He was all about love and acceptance and affirmation. As a semi-professional father, I can tell you that this is a fundamental misunderstanding of love. Love fights. Love cares. Love discriminates. Love and hate go together. They are inseparable. Anger is hate in motion. Anger is hate moving towards that thing that is threatening what I love with the intention of removing or destroying it. If you don’t get angry…if you don’t hate, then you don’t really love. Consequently, if you don’t love someone, but simply tolerate them, then you will hate nothing.
God hates. He hates all enemies of love as the doctor hates the cancer that is killing his beloved patient. He hates the many things that threaten the very thing he loves like a father deeply hates and is driven into a rage at the very thought of harm coming upon his child. God hates and punishes sin because he loves and wants to protect his children.
Sin destroys. I don’t know many who would disagree with that. The problem isn’t that we don’t recognize that sin destroys. The problem is we don’t agree with God’s definition of sin because we don’t think that what He calls sin is really destructive. This whole issue comes back to how much you trust God. Do you really believe that what he calls sin really is harmful and destructive though you may not see it that way?
Because even though God puts up the fence of the Law and made sure it was set in deep with the post hole digger of grace so that we could be safe, we continually kick it down thinking escape means freedom. We give him the finger, tell him where he can stick his “rules,” and go our own way not realizing why God put the fence up in the first place. Good, loving, and wise parents put up a fence in their backyard to keep their kids safe and keep out weirdos. Law abiding schools put up fences around their playgrounds to keep the kids in and keep the kidnappers out. Caring and kind neighbors build a fence or railing around their deck to keep people from falling off of it. If we are his sheep and he loves us, he must hate the wolves and keep them away.
Because God is teaching me that love constitutes hate, there will be a few standing rules in my house. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start.
1) “Thou Shalt Not Drink Motor Oil.”
Aw, Dad! You’re just trying to spoil my fun!
No. Drinking motor oil will kill you. I love you and I hate all the things that might kill you.
2) “Thou Shalt Not Drive the Wrong Way on the Interstate.”
Dad, I know you love me so I know you don’t really mean it when you give me these rules. Love means that you’ll support whatever I choose.
No, that’s not what love means. Love means I protect you from things that will kill you. Driving the wrong way on the interstate will kill you even if you don’t think it will. I’m trying to protect you.
3) “Thou Shalt Not Eat Only Junk Food.”
Dad, you don’t understand. I have these very strong cravings and desires for junk food and not vegetables. You’re telling me to give up my deepest desire. I thought you loved me.
No, you don’t understand. I do love you. It’s because I love you that I’m telling you that attempting to satisfy that desire will cause you harm. I love you I hate anything that might hurt you.
God gives us commands so we can live. Again, the question that is being begged here is, “Can I really trust that God’s commands are good? Can I really trust that his commands come from love? Can I really trust that his commands are to protect me?”
At the most fundamental level, when we rebel against God’s commands, we are telling him we trust ourselves more than we trust Him. He doesn’t really love us. If he really loved us, he wouldn’t say that he hates what we’re doing. Anyone who has been a parent for more than 5 minutes knows this isn’t true. The fact that God loves means that God hates.
And that’s a very good thing.