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I’ve tossed this question around in my mind, and I’ve developed some thoughts about it. My first thought is:

“We don’t really want to know, but we may soon find out.”

I’ve lived through several periods of civil unrest in our country, but I’ve never seen anything like what is going on right now. Hatred has progressed from lighting glowing coals of disrespect to actually fueling a wildfire of lawlessness and anarchy.

I don’t believe the United States has seen such a display of open hatred since the Civil War. And anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of history should be concerned about that.

Using an analogy, if the pot of hatred already hot in the hearts of so many of this nation’s citizens and leaders is not cooled soon, there will be severe consequences for all of us to face. I’m concerned the pot is about to boil over.

What the current Corona virus is doing around the world is terrible, but hate is not only more infectious but also more deadly. Viruses can make one severely, physically ill—and perhaps even take one’s life—but hatred can actually destroy the soul.

You see, minds and hearts consumed by hatred don’t just grow numb over time, they eventually rot. And all sense of reason or goodness that God created us to possess will eventually begin to disintegrate into the basest elements when unrepented hatred is composted over time with pride, arrogance, and lust for power.

I believe that is what we are witnessing today.

~ ~

But another thought came to me as I stewed on this. I like it much better than the first one. And that’s because it’s a thought that gives me both a hope and a future.

Here is that thought—my second answer to the question about where hate ends:

"Hate ends at the Cross."

Some people say the present situation in America will result in another great spiritual awakening—true nationwide revival. If that happens, and I pray it does, it will happen only if multitudes of people (including many who claim to represent God) reject hatred, repent of sin, and find God’s solution to their frustrations—a solution only He can supply.

Ultimately, just as light is the only thing that can overcome darkness, only love can overcome hatred. I’m talking about God’s definition of love. And the power of that love can be fully received and expressed by people only when they are reconciled to God and His authority.

Why is that? It’s because of our Creator’s very identity. And it’s because of what Jesus did on the Cross when the perfect died for the imperfect—when Love was sacrificed to forgive sin and destroy hatred.

You see, God not only defines love, He cannot be separated from it.

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God IS love. (1 John 4:7-8 NLT [emphasis mine])

Since that is true, we have a responsibility as God's people to also not allow ourselves to become separated from love. Christian lives are supposed to reflect God's love to others.

We are not even to hate our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). But we are ill suited to do that if we have not come to fully know and incorporate into our own lives the love that overcame hate so clearly and passionately from the Cross.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NLT)

Think about this: When Jesus—God in the flesh—hung on that old rugged cross that day, Love was hanging there in full display before all the haters who were responsible for His death. It was that exhibition of love that so thoroughly condemned hatred for all time.

God proved the fullness of His love that day through His actions.

So how do our actions compare to His? Today we can see all too many people, even influential religious and political leaders, increasingly revealing their poisonous hatred through their divisive and destructive behavior.

And sadly, they sometimes act out their hate even while talking glowingly about faith, justice, and the value of their own relationships with God. Their actions betray their words.

They may claim to be motivated by love for God and for others, but their treatment of others and their opposition to biblical standards say otherwise. They imply their lives are yielded to God. But all too many of their actions reveal the only thing they yield to God are their lips, not their hearts. (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:7-9, Titus 1:15-16)

Hatred can be denied, but it cannot be covered up. Our actions reveal what is in our hearts, be it love or hate.

Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:20 NLT)

So what do people’s actions say about their relationships with God? Do their actions reveal them as real followers of Christ? When we truly come to the Cross, accept responsibility for our sins, confess them, and turn from our sins to follow Christ, hatred must end.

Hatred indeed ends at the Cross. And if people want to rid themselves of the hatred that is destroying souls today and leading to chaos and destruction, they must truly take their hatred to the Cross and forsake it there.

For if their hatred doesn’t end at the Cross, it doesn’t end at all.

L. Edward Hazelbaker
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