Like many, I’ve been trying not to be dismayed by the hatred we’ve recently seen expressed, such as in Charlottesville, Va., and Barcelona, Spain. I’ve been moved to pray about the situation, affirming daily that God, divine Love, created us all as spiritual and capable of expressing great love.
For decades now, the Bible has been my rock through good times and bad, and I’ve found Christ Jesus’ strength in the face of hate to be inspiring – as well as healing.
The Gospels make clear that Jesus was no wimp in the face of evil. On more than one occasion he denounced wrongdoing in very explicit terms. But he also pointed out the way to a better, purer life that truly belongs to everyone, in which we are all the sons and daughters of divine Love, God.
Jesus proved how this spiritual understanding of our relation to God can keep us safe from hatred when a mob marched him to the edge of a hill, intending to throw him off it and kill him. The Bible says, “But he passing through the midst of them went his way” (Luke 4:30).
All that Jesus did he did out of love, even loving those who hated him. And he expected others to be able to follow suit. Jesus’ “bottom line” to his disciples was, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). To me, obeying this command includes acknowledging that no one is beyond divine Love’s healing, redeeming power, even when hate seems the most entrenched.
A prime example of such a change is the man we now know as the Apostle Paul. For years he had hunted down Christ Jesus’ followers. And while he could imprison them unjustly, and even stand by as at least one of them was murdered, he couldn’t stop the prayers of those he was persecuting.
Eventually his life and character were transformed through a realization of the power of Christly love, which was shown by the willingness of one of those early followers of Jesus, called Ananias. He expressed that love in the face of the violence Paul, as Saul, had aimed at them. Once a hate-filled, self-righteous man, Paul became a powerful example of Love’s power to redeem the wrongdoer and save the innocent.
Daily, as I read the news reports, I ask myself, “Am I able to love enough to see even those that express hate as truly being the spiritual children of God, instead of hateful mortals?” I’d be lying if I said this was easy. Nor is the love I am striving for simply a way to paper over the challenges posed by these events. But I have been inspired by an article called “Love,” in which Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy writes, “I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 250).
There’s great strength to be found in turning our thoughts to God’s care and yielding to divine Love. Then, instead of getting caught up in self-justification or the fear that things will never change, our hearts can respond to Love’s perspective – affirming and discerning the spiritual truth that Love governs all – even when current events don’t reflect that.
A statement Paul made in a letter to Roman followers of Christ Jesus after the turnaround in his character has a strong message for these times. After enumerating the Bible teachings about not committing adultery, killing, stealing, lying, or coveting, Paul writes, “and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (see Romans 13:8-10).
The law of Love, God, is infinitely more powerful than hatred, and I am praying to see this divine law at work to free both the haters and the targets of their hatred from being subject to animosity and fear.