So, who can we hate? As Christians, who do we have every right to be mean to?
No one. Not a single person.
Not that awful brother-in-law, or that girl from high school that told everyone the thing you least wanted them all to know. We can't hate Hitler, Stalin, or even declare to the world hate for Obama via bumper sticker. There is no "except" or "unless" on the type of people Jesus commands us to love. Not just Christians, not just people of your same ethnicity or socio-economic background, or sexual orientation. Everyone.
Some people are really hard to love. Like, REALLY hard. The ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, the boss who blames you for everything, the guy in that ridiculously lifted truck who not only cut you off but filled your air conditioning with that gross exhaust smell, and even whoever stole your brand new beach cruiser from outside your junior college class. Those people are really hard to love. The people that make you drag your emotional feet and go "Do I have to...?"
The answer is always, yes.
How do I know this? As Sunday school children often sing, "Because the bible tells me so."
This isn't just an opinion of mine. Jesus says it.
It can be really, really, really hard. Loving people you don't agree with, or understand, is probably the hardest thing most people will ever do. But Jesus wasn't asking if we wanted to, he told us that we have to. He told us that love was our priority. Jesus wasn't the only one, every disciple and follower of his with writings in the bible says it. Over and over and over again. They make Jesus synonymous with the word. One of the clearest examples, in my opinion, is in Philippians. Every line of that epistle is about God's love and letting that love saturate our beings and our lives.
But loving people is extremely difficult sometimes.
Sometimes, we just really want to hate them. We want to hate their stupid hair, and their stupid face, and the stupid way they say that stupid thing. Sometimes, it's even harder than that. Sometimes, they really hurt us to a degree that we can't picture their face, or hear even a name similar to theirs, without the rage rising in us. Sometimes, we really want to hate. Hate seems pretty easy.
If you believe that love is the only thing that truly matters, and that's a big "if," and we all get it wrong a lot of the time. That's where that forgiveness thing comes in, because, well, if you love like God does, you forgive. Everything. Every time.
Keep in mind, not every person who claims the name is walking the talk. There are plenty who call themselves Christians who don't believe. They're out there spreading hate and fear. They are out there making sure people are afraid and feel hated. This is not Christlike, but we can't hate them either. They are the lost sheep, we were probably one once also. Whether it's telling your secrets or executing unimaginable numbers of people as they carry out horrific eugenics, we have to love them too. It's hard. It takes work, and it takes a lot of practice. Loving everyone is no small goal. It's a priority though, it has to be.
A Christian without love, without trying to understand, accept, and embrace everyone, is not a Christian at all. All he asks is that you try. Especially when it's hard. And, when it's too hard, he'll forgive those times too.