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Minister’s Message: A stranger to hate

There are days when my sanity literally cannot bear the news of some of the stuff going on in communities across the nation

I’m no stranger to hate.

There are days when my sanity literally cannot bear the news of some of the stuff going on in communities across the nation. I want to kill all the messengers that dare bring such horror and heartache into my house. Only the thought of needing to buy a new phone allows me to muster restraint.

There are times when it’s just a few lines of internet opinion that gets my blood boiling, a slogan on an article of clothing that sparks outrage, or a recollection of words spoken to me years ago that stirs up vitriol.

I’m no stranger to hate. Nor the fruit hatred bears. It’s there, right underneath the surface, waiting to pounce.

Maybe you’re not, either? Maybe you also know the insidious anger that fuels our political narratives? Maybe you’re also familiar with the suffocating strangle of envy and jealousy? I mean, really, when was the last time you hated someone — or a group of someones — to the point you dehumanized them? I think some of us eat, drink, and breathe contempt for others. We feast on our disgust for “those people” and how “they” are ruining “our” society. We’ve become so comfortable in our language of “other-ing” that we can’t even mention specific names or particular groups of people without our tone betraying our revulsion for them.

While hate may start out as a choice we make, or a stance we take toward others, like a prowling lion, our hatred eventually turns around and devours our own hearts, tearing our humanity to shreds bit by bit, before spitting out the bones. Every time we dehumanize another with our language or our actions, we end up compromising our own humanity in the process.

And I’ve got to be honest: it’s not a good look. Hatred, under any guise, is ugly. Disgust, no matter whom the target is, is never flattering. Rage rarely leaves the legacy for which we want to be known.

No, we’re no strangers to hate.

But I wouldn’t mind being one. If I could move from a life filled with repulsive hate to one that dwells in the beauty of love, sign me up. And as much as I wish I could make that move on my own, I can’t. I’ve tried. Love first has to make a way. And that’s what the Scriptures tell us happened. “We know love by this, that [Jesus] laid down his life for us — and we ought to laydown our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16).

What Jesus has already done for us, we can do for others. Who Jesus has been for us, we can be for others. There are other options than hate, even in the presence of those we deeply disagree with. How? The only way real love is possible for us is to know the source and fulfillment of love: Jesus himself. The more we know him, the more beautiful our lives become.

Joshua Gorenflo and his wife, Kya, are ministers at Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 on the Kenai Spur Highway. Worship is 11 a.m. on Sundays. Streamed live at kenaifellowship.com.

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