Recently I was accused of hate by someone on Facebook who said that Americans were naive. And indeed I was naive to think that this person could understand a situation in a city they had never been to, located in a country they had never been to, and especially since this person had told me they had spent time in an insane asylum.
However, God used this person to teach me a lesson in humility, and to examine myself concerning prejudice. I made the mistake of trying to explain to this person my resentment (in the city I was born and raised in, which I moved away from about 7 years ago) over the fact that I could not communicate with my next door neighbors, people at the grocery store, people at the laundromat, etc., because I did not speak their language, and many of them did not speak mine, even though it was in my own country. It did not help that those who lived around me had been brought up in a different culture that I had, and they thought differently and did things differently because of it. I felt like a foreigner in my own hometown. Most of those who were like me (white, Anglo-Saxon Americans) had moved away from that city. I also resented the crazy drivers, the corrupted politics, the overcrowded beaches, etc.
The group this person accused me of hating was Cubans. The first Cubans that came over to Miami, like the ones that were our neighbors when I was little, and like one guy who was one of my best friends before moving from there, were completely different; they were gentlemen and had traditional values. In contrast, the ones that lived around me the last 16 years I was there, when I lived in an apartment, were nothing like that. Many of them were the ones that Castro had let out of prison (called "mariolitas"). They sold drugs, would brag about stealing from stores and getting away with it, worked on other people's cars illegally in their yard and used Super Glue to glue the car parts together, had fathers who were in prison, did dentistry work out of their apartments (which was illegal), and sacrificed chickens and goats by decapitating them and leaving them on the railroad tracks (they practiced animal sacrifices, since they were in a religion called Santeria, which incorporated voodoo). Even one of my former Cuban girlfriends had been in prison in Cuba, though the reason she was there was because she was in an organization that was against Communism.
This person who accused me said that the fact that they had two coffee mugs that had images of American cities on them was obvious proof that they did not hate Americans. Rather than defending myself or continuing to argue with them, which I figured would be a waste of time trying to reason with them, I merely deleted them as a Facebook friend, which I actually should have done long ago, because this person also had previously attacked one of my friends very viciously, a guy who is a very nice guy, and who never attacks anyone. This person would also post messages of how she couldn't stand people, and only loved her cat, and that only her cat could understand what she was going through. She compared her situation to the martyrs of old, and she said that, because of her illness, she could relate to their persecution and suffering. She would complain that she had to drop many people as friends, and she counted that as part of her suffering. The constant negative messages this person would put on Facebook was another reason to delete her as a Facebook friend, even so it was an unfortunate step.
This person said that owning two coffee cups with American cities on them is obvious proof that they did not hate Americans. Well, my sister-in-law is Cuban. My brother-in-law's stepdad is Cuban (his mom is Puerto Rican). I have dated Cuban girlfriends. Many, and maybe even most, of my friends over the years have been Cubans. Some of my closest best friends have been Cubans. I have attended Cuban churches where the entire service was in Spanish. I have lived among Cubans my entire life (until I moved to my current city).
However, this also reminds me how much people of other cultures and other languages and other skin colors affect and influence our lives, often in very positive ways. The person who witnessed to me, which led to my accepting Christ, was a black guy. I have two goddaughters, and one of them is black. I have had a number of brothers in Christ who were strong Christians, who were Cuban. One of my cousins used to be married to a Native American. My niece is dating a Puerto Rican. One of my brothers used to be married to a woman from Honduras. He also had dated a black woman from England. Another girl that I dated for a while was from Hawaii. My two roommates one year in college were Haitian. Growing up, there was an Italian couple who lived across the street from us. In the apartment I lived for 16 years in Miami, before moving to Central Florida, there was only 1 other 'Gringo' American for miles around that I knew of, but, other than him, the only other non-Hispanic guy was an Italian. My Aunt is from France. And for 2 years, through Compassion International, I sponsored two kids in Thailand.
So, really, the world we are living in is getting smaller and smaller, and, though there will be conflict among people no matter who they are, hate is not the answer. And hate is never the proper Christian response.
I was also accused of hate when I tried visiting a gay discussion board online, for the purpose of trying to witness the gospel to them. But, as soon as I said that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, they angrily accused me of being homophobic and of hating gays. What if I was talking about a close relative who was an alcoholic? If I loved that relative, would that mean that I must also love the fact that he is an alcoholic? Does that mean that I must encourage him to continue being an alcoholic? Or what if someone in my family was a thief, and was going to prison for burglary? Would the fact that I loved them mean that I must also love their habit of stealing things, and must encourage them to continue stealing things? Of course not. Just because I was against what they were doing, does not mean that I hate them.
If one is to be a committed Christian and stand up for what the Bible teaches, then one must stand against sin. However, at the same time, one must also love people, no matter who they are or what they've done. Now, some Christians say that God doesn't see any sin as being worse than any other sin. Though one sin will keep a person out of heaven just as quickly as another sin will, God obviously does see some sins as being worse than others, because certain sins have worse consequences than other sins do, and the Bible teaches there are different levels of punishment in Hell. Nevertheless, it is also wrong to villainize one sin, while ignoring all other sins. Homosexuality is not the only sin in the world. Many years ago, there were some Baptists who used to talk about dancing like it was the worst thing in the world (and dancing, in and of itself, is not sin, because even King David danced before the Lord). There were also some Methodists at one time who preached against smoking like it was the worst thing in the world. Though I believe a Christian should be pro-active and speak out, we cannot have tunnel vision and focus only on one sin like its the only sin in the world. In fact, those who have blown up abortion clinics have committed sin themselves. Killing people in order to stop the widespread genocide of unborn babies is not the answer.
In summary, while the Christian must stand up for truth and what is morally right biblically, the Christian must also love people. Love God first, then love others more than self. This is part of what it means to die to self.
Above: I pulled a photo off the Internet and used Photoshop to make it look like a painting.