This might strike some (most?) of you as a “no kidding, Murphy” post, but maybe it will click with a few of you. If I can help just one reader…
On social media it’s fun to refer to implacable critics as “haters,” and the common explanation for their behavior is, “Haters gonna hate.” But I actually think that is more profound than most of the people using it realize. First, it crystallizes the choice we face: Are we going to approach others with love, or with hate? There’s no middle-of-the-road policy here.
Furthermore, what I’ve realized as well is that someone who is a “hater” to you, is not just picking on *you*. There are many recipients of that person’s hate on a daily basis. The person really IS a hater; that’s not just a cute term for “someone who really said rude things about my Throwback Thursday pic.”
What made me realize these things, was watching internet battles of late, where it was quite obvious to me that various partisans were hurling the most ludicrous of criticisms at each other, and apparently with righteous indignation. I previously would not have thought some of these exchanges were possible, had I not seen them with my own eyes. (Yes, the Piketty stuff is an example, but that’s just one of many, and I don’t even just mean arguments that have political ramifications.)
Yet this should be par for the course, for a Christian. No matter how ludicrous the criticism any of us receives from a hater, no matter how unfairly our wonderful efforts are despised by people who (in our minds) can’t hold a candle to all the hard work we’re doing… it is nothing compared to this:
10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite![a] Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
And as those of you familiar with the gospels know, this was a recurring theme. Just like Clinton’s partisans sent out the talking point of “does not rise to the level of impeachment” during the Lewinsky scandal, so too did Jesus’ enemies actually keep bringing up the fact that He was miraculously healing people on the Sabbath. With a straight (and indignant) face, they were publicly criticizing someone for miraculously healing people when He should not have been working.
So no matter how annoyed you get with unbelievably idiotic nitpicking critics, take it with a chuckle: It’s nothing compared to what Jesus put up with, and He still willingly died to save all of the haters, including you and me.