Can love and hate co-exist?

Recently, I was read in to a conversation between a husband and wife. During a gathering at the home of the wife’s father and mother, a few coarse words were spoken. The father-in-law spoke harshly to the wife’s husband. The shock of the father-in-law’s words could be seen in the widened eyes of everyone in the room. On the way back to their home, the wife turned and asked her husband if he was O.K. The husband replied that he was embarrassed by the negative public attention he had received and wondered if it would be best if he just stayed clear of future family reunions.
 
Several weeks later, the wife was making dinner plans for Easter. Her plans did not include inviting her parents and particularly, her father. When the husband asked why she chose to exclude her mother and father, the wife fumed, “Well, I am still angry over how my dad treated you at our last family meal.” The husband replied, “Honey, I am grateful for your efforts to defend and protect me, but I do wish you would reconsider your decision. I admit that I am a still a bit put off by what your father last said to me, but I want you to know that my love for you will always be greater than any animosity I may feel toward him.”
 
Jesus’ beloved disciple and friend, John, once said: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar…” (1 John 4:20, NIV). John spelled out a timeless truth in that love and hate cannot occupy the same space. Love and hated are so opposed to one another that each steals oxygen from the other.
 
John’s theological axiom offers a critical word for the ways in which we relate to one another in this present age. Any sense of disdain, disregard, or disgust that one individual may hold toward another person or group of persons makes a mockery of that individual’s faith. When a mother talks disparagingly to her children about their father, she not only damages the connections that exist within her family, she damages her witness as a Christian.
 
Relationships are difficult. Conflict with others is inevitable. Yet, the question that each of us as followers of Jesus must ask is this: Is my love for Christ greater than my hatred or anger toward those who’ve offended me?