One day, while driving home, I found myself behind a red truck. At the bottom center of his tailgate was a bumper sticker that caught my eye. All it said was “I *love* haters.” (Instead of the word “love” there was a giant red heart.) Of course, we all know that a “hater” is one who is jealous of you, hostile towards you, or doesn’t want to see you succeed. In some cases, it is someone who might even try to sabotage you so that you fail at something. A hater is not someone you would call a best friend, let alone someone you would say you love.
So, naturally the bumper sticker intrigued me. Our natural response to a hater is to go on the defensive and keep them at arm’s length. We draw a dividing line between ourselves and them. There hostility towards us breeds hostility with us. Then, our haters really do become our enemies and community is broken.
But what if we all made up our minds to love the haters in our lives? In his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount found in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” In other words, love the haters! Love and pray for them so that they can experience the love of Christ through you. In doing so, not only do we help break the cycle of hate that is destructive to relationships and community, but we partner with Christ in building God’s kingdom.
As the saying goes, haters are going to hate. There will be people with whom we have conflict. But Christ has called us, his disciples who live in his love, to a ministry of compassion, reconciliation, and love. In Christ, may we find the strength to love others as Christ has loved us in spite of our strife or conflicts. May we all learn to love the haters in Christ’s name!
Blessings to you, my friends!