The Other Pandemic
One would think that one pandemic threatening the world would be enough:
- Lives put on hold,
- Economies in jeopardy,
- Multitudes infected, and
- Thousands dying.
One would think—but we have two happening now.
One is older; its history as old as that of mankind. It is pervasive across all lines in society and is found in “every tribe, and tongue, and race.” There is a cure, but the cynical machinery of man mitigates against it. The new pandemic, Covid-19, does not yet have a cure but we are sure that it will, someday. Eventually these trying times will be filed away as history, hopefully never to be visited upon us again. We will “follow the science,” adjusting our habits and dreams to the demands of “the new normal,” and we will soldier on.
But what of the other, older pandemic? What of hate? What can we do to inoculate ourselves against this disease of the soul? What regimens can we adopt to keep us safe from this ancient, modern, and perennial plague? Where can we find the neglected antidote? It is as present as the air we breathe but most choose not to breathe it, preferring the continuing contamination of hate, as countless conflicts produce winners and losers while we momentary spectators keep score.
If hate is so pervasive, doesn’t that mean that is our natural state? Do we really think we can prevail against our nature? Yes, we can, with God’s help. Millions have done it from the age of their personal awareness of right and wrong to the moment they lose consciousness. Multitudes have found a vaccine against this plague and have thus limited the devasting march of hate through their world. It seems of late, that we might be finally losing the war against the hate in our own ruined hearts. Why is this pandemic so threatening today?
The destructive force of hatred is easily observed:
- Hate has no upside. There are no true advantages to hate. Society does not advance through it for it is a downward spiral leading from tragedy to calamity and back again. It constructs no industries, builds no shelters, and creates no beauty.
- Hate deceives the heart. Masquerading as passion, hate corrupts the heart of the one who hates. Eventually hateful hearts die though sensitive machines may still detect a heartbeat. The music of the heart sounds not at all sweet. The poetry of the heart is not a healing balm. The blood pumped by this atrophied muscle is tainted with poison.
- Hate clouds the mind. The mind races from evil to evil, ruminating on obscenities, half-truths, or outright untruths, until logic is lost in vitriol and the brain becomes a storehouse of the ridiculous. Hate dulls the mind and closes it.
- Hate makes the one who hates gullible. This clouded mind cannot see the facts through the fog. Any song sung by fellow haters is memorized if the notes sound in the key of our chosen hate. Generations are swayed by these siren songs.
- Hate loses perspective. Thus weakened by this creeping deception, the mind of the one who hates focuses on small things as if they were large and important things as if they didn’t matter. Perpetual confusion results from this distortion; smart people do dumb things.
- Hate creates despair. It feeds on hopelessness. When hope is lost, there is no confidence in the future, no trust in proven concepts, and no peaceful options to be considered. Violence must be the answer.
- Hate runs in devastating circles. True to the law of sowing and reaping, seeds of hate sown in the deceived heart and the hampered mind yield a harvest of devastation. Mobs rule through hate. Hateful men don robes and ride in the night. Computers become weapons. Cities burn and the blood of the innocent runs in the streets. Like an evil carousel, hate keeps spinning and spinning until there is no peace or progress to be found.
- Hate springs from fear. Moments of fear spawn panic. Seasons of fear breed devils. Fear is cold and unreasoning, like icy fingers clutching the heart. As the Bible says, “Fear has torment.”
- Hate devalues people. The population is divided into only two races: those for us and those against us. Anyone who stands in our way is subject to removal by any means available. The unborn are not yet human. The elderly, or those hindered in some way, are expendable. Those who oppose us do so at their own peril. There are no rights or recourse for those who are against us.
- Hate severs relationships. Disagreement disengages family members. Discussion is not permitted. Words of love are no longer uttered. The sword of hate has done its work dividing parents, children, siblings, and those who were the best of friends. Committees go to war with each other. Companies waste their energies competing instead of collaborating. Teams lose the game they are playing because trust and respect have been lost.
- Hate isolates the hater. Because of eyes blinded by hate and ears that can no longer detect the voices of others, the one who feeds on hatred closes out the world around him/her. No one can be trusted or befriended for all are unfaithful. No voices except those we have chosen can be heard and we are not sure we can trust them. Doors close. Windows shut, and minds rot.
Hate has a cure.
In the face of all these terrible realities, there is good news: The disease of hatred has a proven cure. It is found in a man, one Jesus of Nazareth. He was hated with the full force of a fallen mankind and an evil empire in the unseen world of the spirit. Hated, He did not return hate to those who despised Him. He was wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquities. Reviled, He did not answer back. Stricken, He did not strike back. Even in death, He asked God to forgive his killers. Learning this, the Apostle Paul gave us the cure: Follow Jesus! “Overcome evil with good.” Did this tactic work?
Yes. Jesus defeated evil with His absolute goodness. He broke the bonds of death. He dismantled the powers of hell. The Keys of Death, Hell, and the Grave are in His grasp. This Man, Jesus, can change hearts, dispelling hatred with love. One day, all of creation will experience and celebrate this victory. Until that day, each of us has the privilege of seeing this march of evil broken in our own lives. This is no theory; it is established fact, repeatable for each of us if we choose to participate. How can this be?
There is a Spirit abroad in this world. The physical world takes little notice of this Spirit, but He is there in the hearts of those who turn to Jesus and follow Him. This Spirit is called The Helper and for good reason. The Holy Spirit lives in the heart of each believer,
- delivering the truth of God in moments of crisis,
- the strength of God in times of weakness,
- the peace of God when conflicts rage and uncertainty fills the air,
- and the hope of God when all other sources of hope are gone.
Paul said, “The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies.” He was speaking of our eventual resurrection, but the Holy Spirit within us gives every day a taste of resurrection power.
A Time to Hate?
Doesn’t the Bible say that there is a time to hate? Yes, but be careful here. If you read enough passages on hate it will become clear that our command to hate does not include people, even evil people. The True Believer hates sin, lies, unfaithfulness, deception, murder and all manner of evil. Jesus commands us to love our enemies and to pray for them. There is no ambiguity here. This cannot be misunderstood. There are no exceptions. The old saying is true, “You cannot do right by doing wrong.”
As God’s people in the world today, we are the ones who must overcome evil with good. We must pray for those who oppose us. We must withdraw from the games people play. We should never function as the echo chamber for the lies and half-truths of the world. Instead of posting pointless propaganda, let’s point people to the cure. We used to sing, “Let’s talk about Jesus! He’s my Rock! He’s my Rock!” He is still the Rock, the only Rock. The world has forgotten this so they have no other hope of a sure foundation. It is our job to remind them. We must be a holy counterculture, standing for the right and rebuking the evil while loving the lost. This plague can be stopped at our door.
Masks? Let us cover our respiration with grace. Quarantine? We must close out the corrupting clamor of a fallen world. Social distancing? Let us draw near to God and He will draw near to us. It is a promise.
(Psalm 97:10; Proverbs 8:13; Ecclesiastes 3:8; Matthew 5:43-45; James 4:8)
© 2020 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved