How often do you hear a declaration of hate from someone? Think about it… “I hate brussels sprouts.” “I hate people who cut me off in traffic.” “I hate Mondays.” “I hate my hair today.” “I hate Algebra.” “I hate boring meetings.” Then there’s the dreaded, mean-spirited one that people toss around without even thinking: “I hate you!”
Hate. It’s a strong word that gets kicked around pretty flippantly any more. And it’s one that used to be fairly forbidden in my house. When our sons were little, and would rattle off something they hate—“I hate lima beans” or “I hate the Oakland Raiders”—we would gently try to steer them in a more positive direction explaining the depth of the word they were using. We’d suggest they say something like, “I really don’t care for ____________” or “____________ is not very high on my list.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-hate. Hating things isn’t necessarily wrong or bad. There are certainly those things in this world that we are supposed to hate: injustice, abuse, rape, murder, etc. The Bible even says there are things God hates.
I saw a bumper sticker this week which read: “I ♥Haters.” I don’t know the origin of the phrase at all, nor do I claim to know what the driver meant to communicate to the world by having this sticker in the back window. But, it’s an interesting phrase, isn’t it? “I love haters.” It could be that this person has a lot of “haters” because they’re doing something good or right or positive. When someone succeeds, our jealousy can throw us a curve ball by creating ill feelings toward the successful person. So perhaps this individual was “hated” by many.
It could be that the one sporting this bumper sticker is expressing the need for us all to love everyone unconditionally, even those who hate.
Like I said, I have no idea what the origin is behind the bumper sticker or what this individual was trying to say with it. There’s one thing I know for sure, however, and that’s what Jesus taught…
“If you’re listening, here’s My message: Keep loving your enemies no matter what they do. Keep doing good to those who hate you. Keep speaking blessings on those who curse you. Keep praying for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer the other cheek too. If someone steals your coat, offer him your shirt too. If someone begs from you, give to him. If someone robs you of your valuables, don’t demand them back. Think of the kindness you wish others would show you; do the same for them.”
Jesus’ message seems to be sort of upside down thinking. You see, we live in a time in which it’s acceptable to retaliate when we’re done the slightest wrong. It’s “normal” when we don’t get our way to curse, fly off the handle, or even resort to some sort of violence because we think it’s our “right.” But, Jesus certainly taught us different ways of thinking that were way outside the “norm,” didn’t He?
I wonder…if Jesus had a car…would His bumper sticker say “I ♥ Haters”?