One of the most important tactics of war doesn’t occur on the battlefield, it occurs in the media and the speeches of the leaders. That tactic is one designed to de-humanize the enemy. We give them a derogatory nickname and they are no longer people, deserving of God’s love, but they become <insert derogatory name here>. We’ve extended that practice towards anyone we want to put down and keep under our thumb. We’ve done that to people from specific countries, or of different colors. You can probably recite some of those terms without my help. We do that to people whose religious beliefs are different than ours. We justify it because they are enemies; we justify it because, as our enemies, they are evil. We let it spill into our lives and think it’s ok even in politics.
It’s so much easier to do that these days, especially with social media. We can find people that agree with us and form our little groups. We can post hateful things about our enemies because, after all, they are our enemies. And politics has become a war zone. We’ll attack the character of those who disagree with us or perhaps we’ll just block them so we don’t have to see any opposing opinions. After all, if they disagree with us, they must be evil – and we assign them derogatory names as well. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
Romans 12 is the turning point of the whole book of Romans. Up to now, Paul has been dealing with who we are in Christ. Now, who we are must translate into action. Our lives must become a sacrifice to God – we are not to be transformed and controlled by the world, we are to be renewed by God’s spirit. If we are renewed by God’s spirit, our love will be sincere. Just as God loved others, we are to love. If God loved us while we were enemies, we must love our enemies. But wait, is that a loophole I see? We can hate evil? Does that mean that the person who thinks differently is evil and I can hate them? No, read that carefully: hate WHAT is evil. It doesn’t say hate “who” is evil. Somehow, we’ve got this whole thing mixed up. We hate those people who are doing the evil things, because we are superior and we are right, of course, and rather than solve the problems, we lash out at the evil doers. But we aren’t evil, so that’s ok. Except, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Except Jesus said of us, “If you then, being evil….”
In our zeal to hate evil, we not only change the what to a who, we fail to see the commands later in the chapter. “Bless those who persecute you” (14) “Do not repay anyone evil for evil” (17) “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (21) As much as God hates evil, we must remember that He loves the evil doers. Lest there be any doubt about that, I realize that He loved me. I’m gonna get radical here: the next time you hear about a terror attack, pray for the victims and the perpetrator. Pray that God would deal with the evil that caused someone to attack others. The next time someone posts a political view that’s wrong, pray for them. Pray God’s blessings for them. Pray for God to reveal truth to them, and to you. Pray that instead of arguing over the methods to deal with an evil situation that God would reveal the evil and the solution; then work for justice. We are not called to “get even” with evildoers. That would make us just as evil. We are only called to get even with are those who have done us good. So, get even with God, if that were possible, by loving those who persecute you and blessing them. We may suffer when we do this, but that’s ok. We may be ridiculed by the very people we are trying to love, but that’s ok, too. If we stay faithful to God’s call, we’ll never lose.
Oh Lord, how often I want to strike back against those who do evil. Help me to love them like You do.