Author Mark Galli contends in a recent essay that we cannot make progress in our spiritual lives without acknowledging that we both love God and hate God. (Galli, Mark. Christianity Today, “We Love and Loathe God,” July 24, 2019) If that is the way to spiritual growth, I’m afraid I’m stuck. Hating God is not an emotion I feel, nor will I entertain it – God willing.
I admit that at times I “wrestle with my relationship with God” and that at other times my lack of understanding has left me “confused and anxious.” (The phrases in quotes are borrowed from Galli’s article.) I acknowledge that I can temporarily become frustrated or disappointed in my relationship with God when I am not able to understand Him, especially when I experience situations in my life that I am probably not meant to ever understand. But that is a far cry from “hating” or “loathing” God. I may dislike having to wrestle with my relationship with God or feeling confused and anxious, but I do not hate or loath God.
And sure, every believer probably has periods where they “wrestle” with their relationship with God. As Galli points out, even prominent Biblical figures have had their challenges. Abraham questioned how God was going to make a great nation from his descendants; David lamented the Lord did not always hear him; Jeremiah felt anger when God encouraged him to preach; and, Thomas initially doubted Jesus’ resurrection. But that does not equate with loathing or hating God.
And true, there are times I may experience frustration or confusion. I crave intimacy with God, but I’m unable to experience Him in a physical sense: I can’t see Him, I can’t hear Him, I can’t smell Him, I can’t taste Him, and I can’t touch Him. As a human being, I cannot use my five, physical senses to perceive God, so I must learn to rely on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to know Him, which requires faith, trust, and a willingness to pursue a spiritual relationship with God. I crave understanding and explanation, but there are things that are ambiguous and things I am not able to understand. I sometimes desire things that are denied me. And sometimes, my human nature resists God, such as when asked to be subordinate to His will or when asked to behave in a manner contrary to my sinful desires. But again, those instances are a far cry from “hating” or “loathing” God.
No, I do not hate or loath God, Mr. Galli, unless you are using the terms with a meaning that is outside my common usage. Nor do I believe people have to acknowledge a love-hate relationship with God in order to advance in our faith. In fact, I think your contention is spiritually dangerous.
Jesus teaches us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind. (Luke 10:27) It is love, not hate, that is the way to spiritual growth, Mr. Galli. To suggest otherwise is contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
If we are to hate, let us hate the things God hates. But we shouldn’t delude ourselves into believing that the way to spiritual growth is through a love-hate relationship with Him.
For a love-hate relationship ain’t no love at all.
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