by R. Loren Sanford
In the world around us, hatred is on a buildup to detonation. When it explodes it will consume everything it touches, bringing with it waves of delusion and deception to blind people to what it really is. We already feel the effects. Hate masquerades as love, justice, righteousness and holy outrage. In the midst of this, we, among whom the kingdom of God has truly taken root, have entered a season of increased favor, healing and blessing, unless we allow ourselves to be swept up in the shock waves of exploding hate.
My prophetic nature tells me that black is black and white is white. There can be no in between, no middle ground. I therefore state boldly that if it isn’t love, it isn’t kingdom, and if it isn’t kingdom, it’s hate. Black can never be white and white can never be black. If it’s not love, it’s hate. Love is, or love is not, and it must apply to all people regardless.
Matthew wrote, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” We’ve come to a point in history when most people don’t really know what love is. In the wider world, whether progressive/leftist/liberal or evangelical/Christian/conservative, it seems that in the name of love and justice for one group, we find reasons to hate and reject another group. In doing so, we’re blind to what has happened to us. An entire culture now lines up to hate one another in the name of some form of what poses as love or justice, and it invades even the church! We might say we walk in the Father’s love, but if our attitude toward homosexuals, for instance, or political liberals, or illegal immigrants, or people who scam the welfare system, is less than warm, it’s hate.
I’m not saying we should approve of the lifestyle. I’m not saying that we ought not to point out what’s wrong in the political system. I’m not advocating that we should open wide our borders and allow anyone to come in regardless of the law. I’m saying that we don’t need to sacrifice love and begin cutting people down in order to recognize that something is wrong and address it.
A demonic principality bent on destruction seeks to infiltrate our thoughts and emotions, cloaking itself in robes of rightness. It tells us that we’re correct, justified in feelings and opinions that rob others of dignity and respect. None of us wants to believe that we hate, but if what we think, feel and say tears down and diminishes people whom God loves, it’s hate. No gray area. No middle ground.
God is love. Is His the voice we hear? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” When love for one person or group justifies condemnation or devaluing of another person or group, then we’ve listened to the whispers of the deceiver.
If we succumb to the deception, the hate growing in the world around us will affect our personal lives, no matter how much we try to compartmentalize it, deceiving ourselves into thinking we can love in one area while hating in another. If you draw down the water table of love for one person or group of people, or in connection with even one issue, you’ll draw it down for those closest to you. Show me someone spewing condemnation and hatred toward a Donald Trump, a Hillary Clinton or some other political figure, for instance, and I will show you a person depriving and hurting people close to them, blind to the hurt they bring.
Love, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (I Corinthians 13:7-8). “Fail” in the original Greek in this context means not that love always succeeds to produce what you wanted it to, but that real love never ceases. It just never stops. Even if the change you were looking for never comes, the loving never ends. Real love never gives up and never quits.
Love “bears all things”. In Mark 17:17 Jesus had run out of patience with the disciples’ lack of faith. “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?” But He never gave up on them. What if Jesus had decided that we were too much to bear? What if He had written us off and decided that He just couldn’t connect with us, that it was hopeless? Jesus’ love bears all the hurts and disappointments. On the night before the crucifixion when Jesus knew that Judas had already set in motion a plot to betray Him, He dipped the sop and put it in Judas’ mouth. In that culture, such an act was a covenantal promise on Jesus’ part to protect Judas’ life with His own, if Judas would avail himself of it.
Love “believes all things”, seeing past sin, brokenness, offense and betrayal and into the image of God written into the core of every living person, no matter how far they’ve slipped. One of the most important things we can say to someone who struggles or has fallen in some way is, “I believe in you,” even if they think that what they’re facing is too difficult. This means that we see what God has made and speak to awaken and strengthen it.
The most important man in my life next to my father was my college choir director, my professor of music when I was a music major. Other professors were cold academics but Dr. Gabbard carried the heart of a father.
I was a hormonally deranged, self-centered mess in every way there was to be a mess. Foolishly, I quit his elite madrigal group in the middle of the semester to go to California to see a girl I thought I loved. I betrayed and disappointed him, but Dr. Gabbard saw past all that, took me aside and said, “I see something in you. You’re going places.” Then, although he was a music professor, not a professor of English, he invested hours with me, tearing my papers apart line by line, to teach me to write. He believed in me when I was unbelievable. That love, that gift of believing all things, set the course of my life in ways I can’t begin to calculate. When love is real, it bears up under every kind of offense and it never ends. If it’s less than that, it’s become a form of hate.
Love “hopes all things”. The hoping for you never stops, no matter how you’ve failed. No wound, hurt or offense can beat it down. If hope stops or is withdrawn, then perhaps it was never truly love. If it isn’t love, then it has become a form of hate that will stand in the way of change and redemption.
God does hate evil, but too many use the idea of hating sin as a bridge to hating people and they don’t even realize they’re doing it. Jesus commanded, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned” (Luke 6:36-37). Kindness, forgiveness and radical love lead people to change and redemption. Anything less than that will fail.
How hate triggers
Hate erupts when the past is not allowed to be the past. You keep remembering and bringing up old things. It blinds you to seeing clearly when change comes and can actually prevent it from happening.
Forms of hatred take root when feelings or attitudes about someone imprison rather than free them or when we stop believing in them and affirming the good. An apt metaphor would be that when Jesus cried, “Lazarus! Come forth!” and he came staggering out of the tomb tightly bound in the grave wrappings, Jesus commanded, “Unbind Him and let him go!”
Hate manifests when we say, “I love you but…,” and then begin cataloging the things we don’t like. Kindness, tolerance and patience change people. Speaking into the glory God created changes people. Building up what God planted in them empowers victory over brokenness and flaws. Anything less is part of what I call hate because if it isn’t love, it isn’t kingdom, and if it isn’t kingdom, it’s hate.
A baptism with fire
Dedicated believers cry out for revival, but we don’t need a new anointing or a new outpouring. We already have that. We need a consuming fire to burn up old attitudes, old opinions, judgments, angers and hurts that hold us back from the fullness of the kingdom of God.
For more than a hundred years, much of the church has been fixated on the blessing of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, identifying that with revival, but we have too often overlooked or have failed to understood the baptism with fire. John the Baptist prophesied, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Baptism in the Holy Spirit is about being immersed in the Holy Spirit. We’re penetrated, filled and often overwhelmed. Baptism in the Spirit brings excitement and power to win people to Jesus by the thousands and work miracles and healings.
Wonderful! But baptism in fire isn’t about power, miracles or excitement. Baptism in fire is a consuming, burning, penetrating cleansing of what is not holy. It burns up what masquerades as love but isn’t. It incinerates what doesn’t conform to God’s heart, removing what doesn’t fit kingdom culture, both in us as individuals and in the fellowship we share. It exposes and consumes what doesn’t bear all things, believe all things or hope all things in people, no matter who they are. Our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).
The apostle John understood. “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (I John 2:9-11). John knew that the certain evidence of real salvation is seen in love. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (3:14-16).
A baptism of fire is coming on much of the body of Christ. It’s not punishment. It’s a gift, although it can be painful while it works on and in us. It will reveal what falsely masquerades as love. It will consume brokenness, darkness and hate and will leave us more free and more filled with joy and glory than we can possibly imagine.
When the baptism in the Spirit and the baptism in fire have come together, and when purity and love have been wedded to power and might, the devil had better find a place to hide because we’re coming for him. Hatred is on a buildup to detonation in the world around us, but you and I are sealed in Jesus. We have overcome the world.