The Hatred of Love and the Love that Persists

Encouragement

Sunday should have been a really encouraging day – and indeed it was. Entering St Peters in the morning I was greeted by a young lady who had become a Christian after the previous Sunday services. There is almost no joy like that. We also received news of a new baby in the congregation, born healthy as the first child of a lovely young Christian couple. We rejoiced with those who rejoice. And we wept with those who wept. It was fantastic to see new people in church, including some who had never been before, and those who are not believers. Dominic Smart preached a really helpful and positive sermon. The praise was lovely, the prayers heartfelt, the church full and the fellowship of the Lord’s people sweet.   In the evening Michael Ots preached with clarity and vision before he began the CU’s week of mission. It was such an encouraging day.

Discouragement

But, (and you knew there would be a but), when the Lord seeks to build up, the devil is always seeking to knock down. And he had a busy time afterwards! Sometimes when the Lord blesses a church, it is as though a fresh wave of water comes and cleans away some of the calm surface (stagnant?) water which was previously there. Sometimes underlying issues are exposed. Sometimes one is made aware of ones own weaknesses, vulnerability, character defects and sin, which become all too apparent.

This morning I woke to find that there were a series of posts placed upon social media about me. You know the kind of thing,   “I’m finding him more and more vile. I’ve also met many people he’s attacked in the most ungracious terms….. He’s universally disliked….. Why do I dislike him so much? Because he single handedly put me of christianity for years. His approach isn’t how I operate in life…….Robo is a very public figure in Scotland. Vile views. He brings christianity into real disrepute….I hate the thought of burning books but I’d burn his.” I wouldn’t get too involved with Robertson. He is brain dead. ”  I think what depressed me most was that these were posted on the page of a clergyman who had trained at a good UK evangelical institution. It was not just that he allowed them, but that he ‘liked’ them.

Sorrow and Anger

When you are faced with this kind of thing there are almost immediately two reactions; the first is to fear that there is an element of truth in them, and then to be depressed that you have let the Lord down, and become a stumbling block to others. The second is to indulge in an immediate self-justification and to get angry and be tempted to hate back.

I think the thing that surprises me most is the level of hatred that such language displays. And I note that such hatred is often done in the name of love. It’s a paradox that I cannot quite get my head around.   There is of course a sense in which it is right to hate in the name of love. God, who is love, hates evil. As the prophet says – Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.

Hating in the Name of Love

But we humans are not pure and for us to hate other humans is just wrong. I have noted that there is an increasing tendency to be intolerant in the name of tolerance, to oppress in the name of freedom, and to hate in the name of love. I am also faced with this paradox. The Bible tells me, and experience confirms it, that the evil of my own heart, is far worse than any name caller or abuser can state. And yet God does not name call or abuse. He warns, he rebukes, he exhorts, he forgives, he loves and he restores. In Christ alone my hope is found. And yet in his name, in the name of his love, how much hatred is spewed forth from those who despise his Word, and loathe his people.

Encouragement in Discouragement

So there was a great encouragement yesterday, followed by great discouragement – have you not had that experience? and then? What do we do? We look away from ourselves and our circumstances, we turn to him, and we are encouraged – even in our discouragements. This is what I read this morning:

Acts 22 – 22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and questioned in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.

The hatred of the Lord’s people and of the Lord’s word is not new! It has been ever thus. Why should it be any different today?

And then I read this in John Flavell

“how is this tree battered with stones, and loaded with sticks, that have been thrown at it, whilst those t grow about it, being barren, bearing harsher fruit, escaped untouched! Surely if it’s fruit had not been so good, it’s usage had not been so bad………. I think I see how devils and wicked men walk round about the people of God, whom he has enclosed in his arms of power, like so many boys about an orchard, whose lips and mortar to have a sling at them. But God turns all the stones of reproach into precious stones to his people; they bear the better for being thus battered……. Let me be very fruitful to God in holiness, and ever abounding in the work of the Lord, and then whilst devils and men are slinging at me, either by hand or tongue persecutions, I will sing amidst them” (The Heavenly Use of Earthy Things)

And my Psalm for the day was:

PSALM 101               C.M.

 

1          I’ll praise your love and justice, LORD;

                                    I’ll praise you cheerfully.

            2          I’ll strive to lead a blameless life—

                                    when will you come to me?

 

                        Within my home the life I lead

                                    will show a blameless heart.

            3          My eyes will view no worthless thing;

                                    from sin I will depart.

 

                        I hate what faithless people do;

                                    it shall not cling to me.

            4          All wicked people I’ll avoid;

                                    from evil I’ll stay free.

 

            5          I’ll put to silence everyone

                                    who slanders secretly;

                        I will not tolerate the proud

                                    who act so haughtily.

 

 

And finally this prayer in the Valley of Vision –

My father,

in a world of created changeable things,

Christ and his Word alone remain unshaken.

O to forsake all creatures,

to rest as a stone on him the foundation,

to abide in him, be bourne up by him!

For all my mercies come through Christ,

who has designed, purchased, promised,

effected them.

 

How sweet it is to be near him, the Lamb,

filled with holy affections!

When I sin against thee I cross thy will, love, life,

and have no comforter, no creature, to go to.

My sin is not so much this or that particular evil,

but my continual separation, disunion, distance from thee

and having a loose spirit towards thee.

 

If I oppose the Word I oppose my Lord

when he is most near;

if I receive the Word I receive my Lord

wherein he is nigh.

O thou who hast the hearts of all men

in thine hand,

form my heart according to the Word,

according to the image of thy Son,

so shall Christ the Word, and his Word,

be my strength and comfort.

The Love that Persists

And so we head into the week – encouraged, discouraged, bruised, battered, confused, cheered, weak and yet strengthened.   There is a Love that will not let us go…and so on we go – from glory to Glory!

 

 

 

 


15 thoughts on “The Hatred of Love and the Love that Persists

  1. David

    Whatever character defects you may have that are exposed in your public dialogues (and no doubt there are some since we are all fallen human beings) none are of a level that justify the kind of vitriol expressed in the examples you cite. These arise from a hatred of the message; what you say not how you say it.

    Ensure you pace yourself and keep close to God for you are at the forefront of the battle where it is very dangerous.

  2. Praying for you this morning David. Having been on the receiving end of this a number of times for no reason other than irrational hatred of believers I can quite imagine what it feels like. Jesus said remember that they hated him without cause, which is why they hate you. If they can’t stop the Lord well, at least you are in the firing line

    All his strength to your elbow

  3. Brother David,

    I empathise with you, and affirm John’s wise counsel about pacing yourself and keeping close to God.

    You wrote “have you not had that experience? and then? What do we do?” What we do is we don’t allow the joy we have to be stolen from us. We guard our heart, we be stong in the Lord and we put on the full armour of God. We hold every thought captive to Jesus and we demolish pretenses and arguments that set themselves up aginas the knowledge of God. For our encouragement and comfort we bear in mind that if we are insulted for nothing other than our affiliation with Christ then great IS our reward in heaven. I place the emphasis on is. This is not just for the future for now.

    My particular favourite way of engaging is through story telling and humour. If you can get a laugh then that’s no bad thing – we humans are strange creature at times ;).

  4. At the end of his autobiography David Pawson (evangelical preacher and bible teacher) recalls a time when he was subjected to serious highly critical rumours by Christians which were untrue. He writes, “I turned to the Lord and complained bitterly about both the personal pain and the damage to my ministry. I have rarely known him speak to me as clearly as he did then. His reply was this: ‘The worst they can say about you is not as bad as the truth’. I burst out laughing, both at the unexpectedness of it, and with relief that my enemies didn’t know as much about me as The Lord did. Later when I told my wife she had the same reaction”.

    He uses this phrase, “Not as bad as the truth” as the title of the book (Hodder, 2006).

    Whatever earthly criticism we have to put up with The Lord knows the whole truth about us, yet he still loves and forgives us in Jesus. Ps. 103, 12-14

  5. Hi David – just back home from an eye operation in Edinburgh and catching up with emails. Be encouraged – there are many who agree with you and are praying for you. We probably need to be a bit more vocal about it! As you clearly illustrate – in discouragement we can be encouraged when we lift our eyes off the ‘problem’ and onto the Solution – the incomparable Jesus Christ! As you have no doubt also found, I find praying God’s blessing on ‘the accusers’ is also a powerful antidote for the soul and spirit. Every blessing Alistair Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2016 09:27:51 +0000 To: alistairb92@hotmail.co.uk

  6. Satan obviously unhappy with you – indeed you are giving him the boke. Well you’re no here to please him onywey!

    I have been seeing the oppression in the name of freedom theme lately while reading about abortion. In the name of women’s rights we are to deny our womanhood. Such coldness. Such objectification! Sometimes when I can’t seem to see much light, the darkness trying its hardest convinces me it is still there.

  7. Don’t know if I’m in a position to advise, but from where I am, and I obviously don’t know you personally, what has been written about you says more about the author, than you. And it is part of the internet generations which give wide ranging and possibly influential voice to the “abundance of our hearts.”

    Bless those who curse you.

    Perhaps you could make a more judicious use of the sites visited, but only you can weigh that up.

    I don’t think we live in more tumultuous times than Luther and Calvin, but it is more instant and incessant.

    As Christians part of our calling is to love the truth even when it is about ourselves and that can be deeply unsettling.

    Who’s voice really matters? In times of intense spiritual battle, where do do we get our significance, where do we get our approval, our acceptance, our security?.

    From our position in the church? Our influence? Our standing?

    As Christians, It is all from our union with Christ, It is there where we have our acceptance, security, significance, acceptance, approval. standing. He is the lifter of our heads, our righteousness, His righteousness credited to us.
    .
    A reminder from “Christ Crucified” – Donald MacLeod based 2 Corinthians 5 :21
    p 156 “His righteousness is ours…that righteousness is ours…” Don’t know if I should be quoting this. Please remove it if I shouldn’t.

    In Christ we are approved by God.

    Think it was Luther who said something like ” there is more righteousness in Christ than there is sin in me.”

    I think Luther also targeted his battles, responding robustly to Erasmus rather than to others.

    Yours in Christ Jesus

    Geoff

  8. Whose voice, David, really matters? Not the voice of an angry, vitriolic man, which says more about him and where he stands for the truth. We rest in the Love of our Saviour, who taught us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek. There in Christ, is the love that will not let us go. We will continue to pray for you David, that you will have the full armour of God, while you are at the front fighting the good fight and we will also pray for your “accusers” that they will find truth and love. Psalm 28:7..”the Lord is my strength and shield….my heart leaps for joy.

  9. Dear David,

    “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt 5:11-12).

    He said it; I believe it; that’s it; period!

  10. Aye Rev Robertson, You are following in a long line of the Lord’s own. For your encouragement and having to travel over to Montrose to visit a recently bereaved relative, on the Lord’s Day , I sought fellowship in Grace Free Church. I was late in arriving ( having had difficulty in locating the place of meeting) blundered in approximately fifteen minutes late. I felt consciously uncomfortable when on opening the door and was faced with a congregation risen in praise. Trying not to be too disruptive I headed for the rear of the gathering when a young lady stepped out and insisted I take her seat. This eased my embarrassment . I then went on to enjoy the ministry , praise and fellowship ( they throw in a great cup of tea) until it was time to meet my relative. Following the service I was encouraged to stay for a short time and was delighted to hear of your own involvement with the fledgling church. May God bless them in infancy and may they grow to be a powerful witness in a very needy world. May God bless you as you continue to involve yourself with them. May the Lord give wisdom also to any traditional element that might hinder this new bud from blossoming under what I would love to see , a vibrant new and liberated church in Scotland. John ( Gylen)

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