FEBRUARY 21, 2024

Dear Friends,

Do you love to hate?

That question grabbed my attention as I read an article this week by Alan Jacobs. He is an author and a distinguished professor of humanities in the honors program at Baylor University. The title of the article I read is Hatred Alone Is Immoral: Why We Whould Be Concerned, Above All, With The Education Of The Passions. In it, he explores the pleasure we find in indulging our hatred of others. He quotes Ohio Senator J.D. Vance, who, before becoming a Senator, declared that what unites us in our culture today is our alignment with those who hate the same people we hate.

I had to pause as I read those words. While I am, I think, usually pretty good at hiding it, I have to admit that I find some sort of perverse, twisted joy in hating certain people. I am not immune from finding my identity and my tribe by looking around for the people who hate the things that I hate.

Okay. Maybe it’s not hating exactly.

It’s eye rolling.

Or SMH (shaking my head, for those who don’t recognize the abbreviation).

Or scorning.

Or ridiculing.

Whatever label you might attach to it, there is a seed of contempt and loathing present when I cop an attitude. And there are plenty of seeds of self-righteousness present as well.

If I’m honest, I find hating fun at times. I like scrolling through social media to watch the latest Libs of Tic Toc post so I can fuel my supposedly righteous indignation with some new example of craziness on display. I like the emails I subscribe to that bring me back every day for new and fresh illustrations of how much smarter and better I am than other people.

Remind me again here. Who was it in the Bible who prayed “God, I thank you that I am not like other people?”

Oh yeah, right. The Pharisee, in the parable in Luke 18. He found a level of delight in his superiority over the sinful publican. What an idiot that guy was.

Alan Jacobs begins wrapping up his online essay on hatred with this observation: “It is … the education of the passions with which we must be primarily concerned.”

Whatever our impulse or desire, whether it be hatred or joy or contempt or exultation – whatever it is, Jacob is suggesting that instead of being ruled by our passions, we must train or teach our passions to respond rightly to whatever provokes them. We must master them instead of allowing them to master us.

Here is Jacobs eventual conclusion. If we’re going to cure ourselves of the joy we find in hating others, “the single most important question we can ask ourselves is this: What pleasure, what gratification, can we offer to people that exceeds the pleasure of hating?”

His conclusion brings to mind what the Puritan writer Jeremiah Burroughs describes as “the expulsive power of a new affection.” The only way we will find a cure for our love hating others is by finding something we love more. The choices we make every day are fueled by what we love most in any given moment. The only way to disrupt the self-righteous impulse to look down on or despise someone is to realize there is greater joy and delight that will be found in loving something – or Someone else – more.

Not all hate is wrong. As followers of Jesus, we should be those who love what He loves and who hate what He hates. We must education our passions and ask God to do the work that is needed in our hearts to bring our desires, passions and affections in alignment with His.

When God hates, He hates with a pure and holy hatred. We have to realize that even as we strive to learn to hate evil (Psalm 97:10, Amos 5:5), there will be mixed motives motivating our hatred. We need to remain on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees finding a home in our hearts.

The next time you are tempted to roll your eyes or shake your head in disgust or distain over the foolishness or wickedness we see present in our world, let’s remember this verse.

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)




Men, two things coming up soon. First, our next Men’s First Tuesday get together will happen on March 5. Dinner at 6:15, session at 7:00.



And we are now 15 days away from the kickoff of our Spring Men’s Retreat.

 

Are you signed up yet? If not, do it tonight! Click this link! It’s gonna be a great weekend. Pastor Trent Griffith from Orlando Florida will be joining us as our speaker to talk about how we can be Men At Their Best

Click here for more info or to sign up. It’s one night away from home. The cost is $100 and that includes four meals – from Friday dinner through Saturday dinner.




On Sunday, March 10, all RCC members are invited to our annual Church business meeting. We’ll be updating you on our finances, sharing about ministry plans for 2024 and beyond, and taking questions.

 

Yes, cheesecake will be served.

And yes, it will be from the Cheesecake Factory.

Sunday, March 10 at 4:00 pm. I hope you’ll plan to come.




Parents and students, don’t forget that this happens a week from Friday!

 




Throughout the history of the church, Christians have faced the temptation to soften the teaching of scripture to make the Christian faith more palatable to unbelievers or more accessible to our neighbors by becoming more allied with the values of our society. It’s a temptation the church in first century Pergamum fell prey to, as we’ll see in our ongoing study in Revelation this Sunday.




See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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