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A Beginner’s Guide to Ending Hate

It was a high school pep rally worthy of a Disney Channel Original Movie.

Red, white and blue balloons floated through the air of the large gym while  the snare drums cued up the school song. These pep fests weren’t necessarily my idea of a good time, however, as a loyal choir nerd I was there to perform a moving four-part rendition of the National Anthem before the Hip Hop dance team popped, locked and dropped things—at least I think that’s what that they were doing…

226199_506224515443_9712_n(in case you needed an embarrassing high school visual)

I navigated through the chaos, finally plopping down next to a kind and hilarious boy from choir who I barely knew. What I did know was everyone liked him and he was good. A while later, a rambunctious group of jock-type humans came pushing in behind us, high on their imagined sense of suburban high school power.

And then it happened.

“Dude, we got here late and now we have to sit behind this fag.”

And on it went.

10 years later I don’t remember much else about that day. I remember that I froze; I looked at this boy with tears in his eyes and I said nothing.

Every day of our lives we have the choice to stand up to the horrible injustices of our world.

Some days I am paralyzed by the weight of these horrendous acts, shut down in the overwhelming feeling that I am helpless to change this slow-decomposing culture of ours.
Some days I wonder if anything I do even matters.
Some days I want to throw my hands in the air and build a tiny house in the middle of nowhere where I can pretend that hate isn’t out there (from the safety of my Murphy bed made entirely from recycled Cheez Whiz cans.)

Those are the days I am not so proud of.
Those are the days I make a terrible choice: complacency.

But other days I make a better decision:
I choose to fight for a better world.

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I choose to get my hands dirty and make a freaking difference.

Some days I get out of bed and stand side by side with the starving and broken-hearted brothers and sisters around me.
Some days I use my privilege, my insane white, straight-male, upper-middle class advantages to extend a hand to those being squashed by the boot of anger and bigotry.
Some days I do what I didn’t do back in that high school gymnasium: I stand up for what is right and what is true.

I can’t change my cowardice silence on that day, but I can decide that I will never let that moment pass me by again. I can decide to never stop loving people.

For heaven’s sake, that’s why we’re here: to be the complete embodiment of a man who loved all of God’s broken and shame-filled people regardless of who they were or what decisions they had made. A man who fed the hungry and forgave everyone of their selfish mistakes. A man whose love changed the entire trajectory of mankind.

God didn’t send Jesus as a one time burst of love so that humanity could simply return to its hateful and violent tendencies. He sent Jesus to show us what is POSSIBLE when we allow the love of God, the God that is living in each and every single one of us, to EXPLODE out into this world that feels so dark and treacherous.

 

  • You don’t need a church or a bible.
  • You don’t need hipster clothes.
  • You don’t need some overly-religious word or ritual.
  • You don’t need to believe that God sent his one and only son Jesus into the world to save us and show us a better and fuller life.
  • You don’t need the perfect president.
  • You don’t need to be a good person or have a perfect past.
  • You don’t need to have a planning meeting about it.
  • You don’t need an advanced degree or a green card.
  • You don’t need to be chosen or sent.

You only need to be one thing: love.

You need to be love, not just rant on Facebook and share stories of hatred, but love your family and friends well. Love the kids and young people around you. Get out there and make a difference in the life of someone who desperately needs you.

You see, when love is just a word it has no meaning. Love requires action. Volunteer. Become a big brother or big sister. Find an injustice that breaks your heart and get out there.

What is your action step?

You don’t have to start a global non-profit to make a difference, you just have to change your one small corner of the earth and inspire others to do the same.

And to my friend who endured those deplorable words of hate ten years ago, I am more sorry than you will ever know that I didn’t come to your rescue. Please know, as long as I live I will never choose that cowardly silence again.

That’s how we end hate in our world. We wake up each morning and choose to be something different; we choose to be love.

Love,

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About Sam

in love with all things Jesus, music, adventure, writing, teaching, laughter, running, friendship. Founder of recklesslyalive.com.

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16 comments

  1. I had a similar experience in school many years ago, with the unpopular, slow kid getting picked on. I wish I had the courage to speak up at the time, but did not. We learn from our experiences and try to do better next time. Thanks for sharing your story, Sam! Reaching out in kindness and thinking before speaking are so very much needed today!

  2. Sam, Sam,Sam…With each new reading you are turning me into one of your biggest fans! The world soooo needs this message at this time in our history. You write with true honesty and insight- a real God given gift.? Keep it up!

  3. What does love mean? If Christ said were to love God first what do you do with Jesus? At a minimum everyone needs bullet #4 if not you haven’t followed the first command

    • Agree – L – that IS the minimum, the core foundation of love, but I think I get what he’s saying. Don’t push that love on people, but love them because of God’s love. Not exactly “love first” – but how should life look like if we love “because” we were first loved.

  4. Sam,

    Interesting article given the current political climate.I guess after reading it, I am still unsure what you mean by “hate” and “love”. Jesus LOVED every sinner and HATED every sin…. at the same time. And we are called to be like Him. I see 2 extremes in the church, and BOTH are demon inspired, and do NOT accurately represent Jesus. These extremes show up in every issue, not just the homosexual issue.

    EXTREME #1 (similar to what you mentioned in above) The “Christian” group from Kansas founded by Fred Phelps (now deceased) who went all around America holding up placards saying “GOD HATES FAGS”. As a Christian I have continually denounced this group as demonically inspired. True, God hates sin, but not true, God does NOT hate any sinner. This is what truth without love looks like.

    EXTREME #2 (also very common in our culture now) The “Christian” groups and denominations all around America saying God is OK with the homosexual lifestyle, and some even ordaining homosexuals to preach the gospel. As a Christian I have also continually denounced these groups as demonically inspired. True, God loves sinners, but not true, God does NOT love any sin. This is what love without truth looks like.

    To live and walk like Jesus, and to accurately represent Him on the earth, we need to embrace BOTH love AND truth. We need to, like Jesus, LOVE every sinner, and HATE every sin, all the time, and we need the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to walk in this balance. We are called to be both lovers and haters. To love righteousness and to hate wickedness.

    You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Psalm 45:7)

    Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)

    Your thoughts Sam?

    • Hi Jeff-

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I value dialogue very much. I wanted to have time to give this a meaningful response and that does not happen every single day in my current schedule. I am trying to create healthy boundaries for myself and unfortunately don’t have time to respond to every comment and email that comes in.

      The reason I wanted to have time to give a thoughtful response is this an extremely divisive issue for so many and the purpose of my blog is to lead people to pursue a life that is fully alive in Jesus. This topic almost always becomes a shouting match. I just don’t think homosexuality was Jesus top priority and especially not for Christians to be spending so much energy focusing on and therefore it’s not mine.

      I love Truth. I love the bible. I love the Word of God. But I can also hate sin without screaming at people. I can hate sin without pointing out the plank in my neighbor’s eye. Once I have a relationship with them, when I am doing life with them and they know I deeply care about what is best for them, then I am willing to share and talk about bigger struggles I see in their walk with God.

      Based on your second comment, it seems you are looking to attack me or bait me into some sort of heated debate and I am not interested in that type of exchange.

      Bless you Jeff and your heart for Truth.
      -Sam

      • Sam,

        I understand you are busy. My concern was seeing other comments, released, and replied to, which came after mine. I also appreciate taking some time to contemplate before giving an answer. And I totally agree, we need to have a relationship with someone so we can help them. But to clarify for future reference so I know exactly where you are coming from, would you agree that homosexuality and abortion are sins?

      • would you agree that homosexuality and abortion are sins? the sound of crickets…….

        • Jeff-

          I have already shared that I will not be having this debate with you publicly. If you and I had a relationship, I would be happy to sit down and have an awesome conversation on these important issues.

          I wish you all the best in your passionate pursuit for truth.

          • This whole blog is PUBLIC Sam. Why are you afraid to share in public your views on these subjects, when you so freely share your views on other subjects? Perhaps you are afraid to make a public stand on these important issues, which WILL reveal a lot about you, and will offend someone, no matter which way you go. Your silence speaks louder than your words Sam.

          • Hi Jeff-

            I don’t feel called to share my views on every subject publicly and that’s between God and me. You’re right it does say a lot about me, it says I’m willing to listen and trust our all-powerful God to lead me in how to continue to best minister to this blog community. If you think I should proceed differently, I encourage you to take that up with Him and then have him get in touch with me.

            I encourage you to start a blog about what God is calling you to stand up for. I started mine for free through wordpress.org.
            Best Wishes,
            -Sam

          • I totally agree Sam on what you COULD do. Freedom means the ability to choose. But on what you SHOULD do, that is another story. I only press the point because of the CONTEXT of the situation. If this was my blog, your silence and right to keep your views is understandable. BUT, since this is YOUR blog, with you ALREADY making the choice to make your views public, and to take replies from people that agree or disagree with your views. In this context, and the fact that YOU, not me, brought up the subject, I do not understand your silence. Yes, before the Lord, you have the freedom to not answer. But as a blogger, who brings up a subject, then immediately pleads the 5th amendment, you lose credibility as a blogger. This is for YOUR benefit Sam, not mine. If you are going to have the courage to engage the culture and start a blog, and then bring up a subject, then suddenly refuse to share your REAL views on the subject, you fail as a blogger and also as someone trying to express his faith. MAN UP, and have the courage to put your cards on the table, Otherwise, why should anyone engage you on any subject?
            -Jeff

          • Oh Jeff, I hope we become friends. I need people challenging me and helping me to stay grounded to what I believe. That being said, I am not sure why you are choosing to attack me on this issue day after day.

            It’s quite arrogant of you to claim to know better than God what I should blog about and what I shouldn’t. I am constantly praying and listening to the Holy Spirit whenever I write. I have never felt led to jump in on that extremely divisive issue. And if you feel that I don’t have credibility as a blogger, why are you even here?

            I think you missed the whole point of this post. It’s not about how God feels about homosexuality or what the bible says on the matter; it’s about standing up for the beaten down and hurting. It’s about choosing not to be the Christian screaming on the street corner and judging people, that is God’s job, not ours. I think Christians have a lot to learn about being an example of love before speaking. As a whole, I see lots of people screaming and few actually reaching out. So I am choosing to be different. I am choosing to love the hurting people in personal relationships rather than add to the noise on the issue. There are many awesome bloggers who address the sin part of this way much better than I could. MattMoore.com is one of my favorites.

            Having a blog doesn’t automatically mean the world gets to know what I think about every little issue or that they need to. Sometimes “Man-ing Up” means showing restraint, gentleness, and kindness – and most importantly – trusting God. And that is the man I am choosing to be.

            If you want to continue discussing the issue, please email me anytime at eatonsp@gmail.com.

          • Hi. I happened to come across your blog today for the first time. I don’t know how I ended up reading this comment thread but I wanted to say thank you. Sam, this is the best reply to a personal attack that I’ve ever seen.

            I am a religious education teacher at my church and also an intern at my local Democratic Party. I can’t tell you how many times both sides have accused me of being wrong/stupid for my views on LGBTQ rights and abortion. (Views that I have never shared publicly.) Your reply on this post gives me a framework for how to answer future accusations, from folks on both sides of the issues. Thank you very much.

  5. Thank you Sam for sharing about what seemed to be a pivotal moment for you. Sometimes our silence is needed, and other times our presence in a situation is purposeful. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern between the two but I’m praying that you and I continue to make the choices that He wants. God bless you!