Sometimes it is a sweet reminder…a quiet encouragement to be kind and to love each other as I am walking out the door.
Other times it is a desperate plea for them to stop fussing and needling each other and just for the love of all that is holy and little green apples just love each other and get along!
As Christians we talk about love a lot, as well we should, considering He is a God of love. Indeed He is love, and if we are His people we are to be characterized by His character. He shows us and tells us how that love should look – patient, kind, not boastful or arrogant and rude, not seeking it’s own or irritable or resentful, it doesn’t take pleasure in wrong doing and finds joy in truth, bearing, hoping, believing. That is love.
After all, isn’t love the greatest command given to us? They asked Him and He answered what they had already learned, what they already knew.
Love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. Oh, and the second command is like the first one: love your neighbor as yourself.
So we toil and strive and work to love Him and each other because this kind of love doesn’t come natural to us.
And neither does hate.
Oh, we can hate well enough, that comes pretty natural to us, don’t you think? But just as He gives us a right way to love He gives us a right way to hate.
We are just as called to hate rightly as we are to love rightly.
Oh, you who love the Lord, hate evil!
Hate the sin and love the sinner we’re told. And that sounds great and all, but it really says nothing because we don’t know how to hate what He hates and we don’t know how to teach our children to hate what He hates. But He even tells us what He hates.
“…haughty eyes…a lying tongue…hands that shed innocent blood…hearts that devise wicked plans…feet that make haste to run to evil…a false witness that breathes out lies…and one who sows discontent among brothers.”
We shuffle our children off to a special service geared just for them. One that they can “understand” and yet somehow we’re raising up a generation that is always learning but unable to know truth. A generation that not only doesn’t know what they are supposed to hate but they can’t really grasp why they need to hate. We’ve let a salad bar teach them about lying, coveting, and adultery and all manner of sin and in the process, or lack thereof, we’ve not shown them how hideous, how black, and evil sin is. A caricature of sin has produced a caricature of consequence that has produced a caricature of God.
We’re trying to show them how grand and big and bright and perfect His love is for us, for our world but we’re trying to do it divorced from just how ugly and fallen that world is. We’ve G rated sin and actually ended up dimming the light because we forget that light shines brightest when it is shone against real darkness.
I’m not saying that we need to be gratuitous in teaching our children about sin. We don’t have to use graphic or explicit language but I think we do need to remember that if we want them to see how big God really is, how huge Jesus’ victory really was we must also teach them the truth about sin and just how big the battle was and is. Because if we don’t balance big grace against a big need for grace then we are teaching our children that God is, as N.D. Wilson puts it, the great big over reactor in the sky. The sin we want them to recognize and run from as dangerous has to look dangerous…it must be in proportion to the grace we are pointing them too.
So we must teach them to love and love rightly. But we cannot forget that we must also teach them
to hate rightly as well.