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We Won't Let Hatred Grow

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

As is often noted, music is a powerful and persuasive communicator. It has a way of getting around and behind our defenses without our awareness. Music can change our mood and change our mind. It works both subconsciously and at the conscious level. It humbles us, calms us, rouses us, and inspires us. It gives voice and expression to things we find difficult to talk about or even difficult to comprehend. Music can be a powerful motivator and a coercive manipulator. It can be a reconciler or it can foment hatred. And all while we drive to work or cook dinner or lounge at the beach or visit with friends.

I got an emotional sucker punch recently from the late 1980's hit by Al Green and Annie Lennox, Put a Little Love in Your Heart. The song was also featured in Bill Murray's Scrooged movie. Simple lyrics really, but true nonetheless. Certainly, God must be the One to put His love in our hearts, and such things as 'love' and 'kindness' might need defining for some, but in our current cultural discourse about power and justice the song still bears a timely message.

Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand

Put a little love in your heart

You see, it's getting late, oh, please don't hesitate

Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place...

If you want the world to know, we won't let hatred grow

Put a little love in your heart...

Take a good look around and if you're lookin' down

Put a little love in your heart, yeah

I hope when you decide kindness will be your guide

Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place...

What we mustn't do is fight fire with fire. You can't overcome evil with the weaponry and tactics of evil. Only love can overcome hatred and evil. Only love can transform the world for the glory of God and the good of mankind and truly make it a better place.

But as I was listening to the song, what got me was the phrase, “we won't let hatred grow.” I started thinking what that might mean and what it might look like if the Church adopted that phrase as something of a rallying cry for its engagement of the world. We won't let hatred grow. Seems to me that hatred is like a cancer that eats away the image of God in us. It devours our humanity and makes us slaves to its violent passions. It begins by turning us to dehumanize, oppress, and eliminate our enemies; not satisfied, it turns us on neighbors and friends and family members; ultimately, it turns us on ourselves in a catastrophic death spiral of self-destruction.

Simply put, hatred and evil, like the Evil One, steal, kill, and destroy. To not let hatred grow is to stand amidst the hatred and intercede for those being destroyed by it. To not let hatred grow is to run with love into the madness and pour ourselves out even unto death for those in hatred's maddening and despairing grip.

I think of the Old Testament post-Exodus story from Israel's time in the wilderness when Korah, Dathan and Abiram led a rebellion agains Moses and Aaron. On the day after the rebellion, the congregation gathered against Moses and Aaron and even (so it reads) against the Lord Himself (Numbers 16:41ff). The crazed cocktail of fear, jealousy and hatred was driving them to a frenzy. You could smell the coming disaster.

God told Moses to get away from the congregation so that He could consume them, but Moses told Aaron to put fire and incense in his censer and run quickly to the congregation to make atonement for them, for a plague had gone out from the Lord. Aaron ran and stood between the living and the dead and the plague was stopped.

Jesus, in a much more profound way, did the same thing. He interposed Himself between us and that which would destroy us. He stood between the living and the dead and made intercession. And it cost him everything.

Somehow these are images of what it means for the Church to stand upright in the darkness of the world with the light of Truth and Love. We run to the battle. We stand in the gap. We intercede and we love – even with our lives.

We won't let hatred grow.

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