A Pause For Clarity

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As we continue the journey of learning what it means to “love and hate like God”, I am drawn back to a passage we touched on in last week’s look at the Kingdom – Hebrews 10 & 11 – particularly 10:26-39.

Yet, when I go back and read the passage, it doesn’t quite fit our pursuit as we’ve described it. We set out to find the things we should love because God loves them, and the things we should hate because God hates them. But this passage does not focus on our displeasure with other things, or even God’s displeasure with other things – it focuses on His potential displeasure with us.

Still, I can’t let go of the sense that we need to take a deeper look at this passage. Why?

Pausing to reflect, I realize the need for more clarity on exactly what we are pursuing. Describing our goal as “loving what God loves, and hating what He hates” was enough of a destination to start the journey, but now I see the need for a more specific destination.

Kind of like deciding to go backpacking in Colorado. While Colorado is an ideal place to backpack, there is a lot of Colorado that will not deliver the experience I have in mind when I think “backpacking in Colorado”. What I am looking requires a more specific destination.

So, how can I better define our pursuit of loving and hating like God? Three issues come to mind.

“Loving What God Loves . . .”?

First is the need to acknowledge an underlying, almost subconscious awareness that my “loving what God loves” part of the equation has never quite done justice to the idea it is supposed to capture.

This whole journey flowed out of a prayer time in which the themes of “love” and “hate” were juxtaposed in connection with my relationship with God. However, the “love” aspect was not prompted by reading about things that God loves. It was generated by a sense of His pleasure in my “love” of His gifts to me.

This difference is subtle, but significant. The point is not to figure out a list of the things God loves, and adopt that list as my own. This is about relationship; about fellowship. God’s gifts to me are not purely utilitarian. They are also for my enjoyment. Food not only keeps me alive, God has also arranged things so that eating can be quite pleasurable. Even our spiritual gifts – although they serve the body – give us a sense of satisfaction when exercised properly. That’s why they are called “gifts”, not “tools”. He gives them for our enjoyment. But He also gives them for His enjoyment. He takes pleasure in our proper enjoyment of them.

So “loving what God loves” is really about “fellowship” – about a shared enjoyment of His gifts to me. He and I “share together” in the enjoyment of these gifts.

“Hating What God Hates”

Perhaps the reason that I failed to see the “loving” side of the equation more clearly is because I was so drawn to the “hate” side. Indeed, as I have talked with others about this journey, it is “hating what God hates” that has drawn the responses – usually along the lines of, “We don’t like to think about what God hates.” It’s like there is a subsurface awareness that there is a part of God that we’re not familiar with.

As I consider this, I revisit David’s words –

“O that You would slay the wicked, O God; . . . Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.”  (Psalms 139:19–22 NAS95)

There is strength in these words . . . and discrimination. God has enemies, and David has aligned himself with God against them. He doesn’t just have a “relationship with God”; he is God’s friend. So God’s enemies are his enemies.

This stirs me. This kind of friendship with God. There is weight and substance to this friendship. This is what I am drawn to.

And now I am reminded that God seemed to direct my attention to these words during that prayer time, like He wanted me to stir my heart in this way. To show me what is available.

A List . . . or . . .?

But, I think I may have been expecting something else. If I am honest, I have to admit that my original expectations were that this exploration would produce a list – “things/people that I approve because God approves them, things/people that I condemn because God hates them”. But that feels pretty “administrative”. If that’s all we’re after, just give me the list. I can do those things without ever knowing God.

But He wants more. He wants the depth of friendship. And that means sharing life. Sharing in the enjoyment of His gifts. Sharing in opposition of His enemies. This is the destination.

And that means that I am going to have to know Him ever better. Because while we are friends, we are by no means equals. True, He knows my heart’s desires, and often enjoys satisfying them. But it is His values, His priorities, His perspective that are the heart of our friendship.

In this light, passages like Hebrews 10:26-39 become critical. So does 1 John 3:15-17. And James 4:4. They are route markers for the next leg of our journey.

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