The Darkness of Easy Hate and the Light of Easter's Love
Hate is easy and the domain of the lazy. This insight came in the darkness of the early morning. I wish I could say that it was due to a Lenten meditation that pierced my own darkness, but alas, it rose as I got up too late to do my study. As I rushed around trying to beat my car pool's arrival, I suddenly thought about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. The story of how Jesus transformed her has always haunted me, and it came back in the rush to comb hair, brush teeth, and get lunch. I kept thinking about how much she was hated by her community. So much so, she came to get water alone at worst time of the day. Yet because of Jesus' engagement, she led the whole town, the town that hated her, back to met with Jesus. Why did Jesus take so much time with her? Why, for that matter, does Jesus take time with me?
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People who hate do so out of laziness. How much vile toxins are there in our arguments about health care, immigration, global warming, taxes, and the rest of our political discourse? Looking at debates about religion between Christians, Muslims, Jews, or Atheists is usually looking at a soup made mainly with bile. The other becomes the problem, and it does not depend who the other is. They are seen as stupid, ignorant, or plain evil for holding a different opinion than ours.
I also see it in the mundane world of sports and entertainment. More than once I have been called various names for being a fan of the wrong team. Pop stars face hatred for the smallest reasons like a change in hairstyle.The most vicious blogs are not political, but those that track the comings and goings of celebrities.
Of course, I am saying nothing new, like pointing out the air. It is all around us, this easy hate. The truth is that it is easy to find this hate within ourselves, within myself. The temptation to look at the other as the source of the hate shows the laziness again. To rid ourselves of hate is to rid ourselves of those who hate, we delude ourselves into thinking, hate the hater. Yet, if I look at the hate within myself, I realize my hate comes from not wanting to understand the other. It comes from being lazy with the other, like a bad reflex, hate becomes a default position with others I disagree with.
Why? Jesus spent time with the woman at the well, and that made all of the difference. He refuse to simply see her as evil, but loved her, though he shows no sign of accepting her bad choices. He chose the narrow road of love. He instructs us to love our enemies. Noble thought in the abstract, but can conservative Christians say they love President Obama or progressive Christians say the love President Bush? To say it and mean it means a lot of work. Easier to hate.
One might think this is a Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?" piece, as that would be, in my context, both trite and silly, both meaningless and boorish. I realize that we humans will continue to hate. First century Jews hated Romans. I will hate those whom I see as wrong -- two thousand years of no progress.
Then Jesus breaks in, and I can repent and love. In a recent post about my son, I was awed by how much support, prayers, and love my family has received, regardless of political views. Easter is a time of God breaking into our swirl of hate and offering us a way out of the madness, a time of repentance, a time of preparing to learn love and finally a path out of being alone. Living Water brings life. Jesus bring us life.
Ernesto Tinajero is a freelance writer in Spokane, Washington, who earned his master's degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. Visit his blog at beingandfaith.blogspot.com.