Hartman to Heart: Do Not Hate When You Can Pray

Pastor Chuck Hartman

I learned from cartoonist Charles M. Schulz that there are three things never to discuss: Religion, Politics, and The Great Pumpkin.

With this in mind, I will attempt not to sound religious or political; however, in my lifetime, if ever our nation seems divided, it is now.

Our two-party governmental system appears to be more “us and them” and not “we the people.”

In recent days I have witnessed hate talk on social media, as well as other places regarding the results of our recent election.

It disturbs me—many things that I hear and read—it pains my heart. One day I read a post about how much someone loves Jesus, and the next day I read, from the same individuals, protests and hate rhetoric.

John said that we cannot hate other people and love God (1 John 4:20). Listen, if you genuinely love God, you are called to love everyone (John 13:34-35), even if you do not share their thoughts, feelings, and political views. We must choose to get along.

We must decide to harmonize and create a beautiful symphony—together we stand, divided we fall.

If ever there was someone from antiquity who could have hated another group of people, it was Abraham. The culture near him was perhaps the most depraved culture that has ever existed.

Abraham did not curse them; Abraham did not attempt to overthrow them; he did not attempt to riot, loot, or protest. Abraham chose to intercede on their behalf. These people had morals that were opposed to the new faith God would birth through Abraham, but that did not send Abraham to a soapbox trying to change the people to his way of thinking; no, instead, Abraham intercedes on their behalf.

Abraham chose to love a group of people who are very different from himself, and he pleads with God for their welfare (Genesis 18:22-33).

In fact, the first thing I learn from Abraham: do not hate when you can pray. Abraham intercedes for Sodom; he did not hate the people of that neighboring place; he pleads with God for them.

If you think a Democrat or a Republican is wrong, imagine how Abraham must have felt about Sodom. The people of Sodom use total strangers for their iniquitous pleasures, yet Abraham’s response is prayer.

Abraham determined to intercede on behalf of the people of Sodom. Jesus even reminds us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44).

The second thing I learn from Abraham: do not hate when you can have hope. Abraham had hope for Sodom. We can have hope for those we think are wrong or those who believe we are wrong.

There is autonomy in praying for others and having hope for others. Paul reminds us that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).

There is transcendent freedom in asking God to reveal truth to the hearts of people who are different from us. There is even greater freedom in asking God to reveal truth to our hearts so we can better understand the perspectives and approaches of others.

I believe most Americans have no idea how much other nations, who fear democracy, would love to see us fighting amongst ourselves. They would love to see us destroy ourselves from within.

What would happen if, instead, they see a people who are praying one for another and believing God’s best one for another? We might see worldwide revival—the likes of which no one before has witnessed. Do not hate when you can pray. Do not hate when you can have hope.

The final lesson I learn from Abraham: do not hate when you can focus on the positive. Abraham focuses on the positive. The truth is, we all have bad days. Each one of us faces seasons where we are overwrought or disappointed.

We might feel like letting out a burst of criticism, but we must choose to speak something gracious, endearing, and kind. We each can build up other people, even people who do not share our values and ideals.

It is merely a matter of “flipping the switch,” a decision to harmonize rather than divide. Do not hate when you can pray.

Do not hate when you can have hope. Do not hate when you can focus on the positive. The choice is yours—like Abraham, God has given you freewill.

I pray that we purpose to use our freewill to intercede powerfully, hope intensely, and love passionately—like the destiny of our world rests on the choices we make now because more than we realize, it does.

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com