“I stopped believing in God because of the Bible,” said the soup kitchen volunteer. “I couldn’t get over how many times it says God hates people!” I know that volunteer and find him to be a thoughtful young man. But is he right?
We can accept it when King David writes, “O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked” (Psalm 5:4). But the next verse unsettles us: “The proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil” (Psalm 5:5). A few pages later we read, “[The Lord] hates those who love violence” (Psalm 11:5).
God hates people? But isn’t God love?
The gospel itself is simple, yet God’s character presents us with a complexity we can’t fully grasp. But let’s try to understand it in our terms. Doesn’t something within you despise evil when you encounter it? Imagine how a perfect, holy God must feel!
This awareness invigorates our understanding of Jesus on the cross. There we read the most heartrending cry in all history, rushing forth from Jesus’ anguished soul: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46). The witnesses near the cross would have recognized those prophetic words from Psalm 22:1, which described crucifixion before it had even been thought of. Jesus paid a tremendous price so we could have His righteousness as our own.
God hates those who do evil because of what it does to us. He hates what we have done to His creation and to ourselves. Yet He loves us so much that “He gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17).
Yes, God hates—because He hates sin. And He loves. Jesus took the hate to the cross—because of His love for us.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Exodus 20:1-22
Psalm 22 shows us a picture of the crucifixion and what our sin cost the Messiah. Read especially Psalm 22:1, 6-18, 29-31.
Which portions of the Bible trouble you the most? What might these passages be telling you about the nature of God and the human condition?