Last night I interrupted our supper scene to read a verse from the New Testament to everyone.
Nothing surprising about that, you may think. After all, it is a Christian community and I am the leader.
It’s just that the verse I read out was one of the less ‘polite’ verses that crop up from time to time in the New Testament. The kind that seldom end up on plastic badges or fridge magnets.
You can check this one out: 1 Corinthians 16:22
So why did I read it out?
Well, it’s just that alongside our (absolutely right and necessary) emphasis on loving all people and bearing with them in patience as they work out their response to Jesus, and go through ups and downs, we have to recognise that there is also an equally clear line of division in the New Testament between those who are for, and those who are against, Jesus.
And at times we need reminding of this, or we can get tangled up in sentiment and lose our clarity: we must retain loyalty to Jesus Christ, even if, in the end, it means loyalty to Him alone (and absolute disloyalty to absolutely everyone else).
I trust God that there will be those (many, I pray) who will come to us and join our love for an incomparable Christ. But not all will and sometimes God takes us into times of ‘shaking down’ where he tests our loyalties and divides the wheat from the chaff. And at such times, it isn’t wrong to ‘hate’, even if it might be difficult: as Jesus Himself taught.