How do I love someone who hates me?

C2 invited me to dinner with a couple of friends from church on Tuesday evening. To be honest, I was surprised that he finally wanted to meet up after an entire year of not seeing each other. However, I felt even more surprised that he actually wanted to get a group of Christians together and meet us; his tweets on twitter leave me without a shadow of doubt that he has grown to hate Christians. Nevertheless, I thought that perhaps he still values whatever is left of the close sibling-like relationship that we used to share. I certainly do want to preserve the shreds of our friendship that he had cruelly torn up and cast into the wind, and so I agreed to his invitation.

I was stricken with anxiety in the hours and minutes before I met him. I was worried about how the meeting would turn out. I feared that I might say something to anger him. And worse, I figured that he would probably be bringing his partner along and I was not sure I was definitely ready to meet him. As I made my way to the restaurant, I prayed and prayed to God that all will go well at this gathering. I prayed that I would be able to show C2 that I still care about him even when he has chosen to flip the bird at my God. I prayed that our love and genuine concern for him would remind him of the family he has chosen to estrange himself from. I prayed that God would be in the midst of us.

Personally, I felt that the evening went pretty smoothly. We chatted and had a chance to catch up with each others’ lives. His partner was there, and he seemed quite reserved. I did not know him at all, and so we made polite conversation. C2 had also invited one of his non-Christian friends along to dinner. She was very loud and animated, and kept us all entertained. It was also nice to catch up with one of the other Christian guys who came along as I had not seen him in ages! We talked about God briefly and privately, but were very careful that it was not excessive to avoid causing C2 and his partner any offence. To be honest, I felt like I was carefully tip-toeing through our conversations that night. I knew that C2 was not ready to hear any ‘preaching’ at all and I wasn’t about to give him any. I just wanted him to know that we are still friends, and I am willing to be friends with his partner too.

Until today.

I was carelessly browsing through C2’s twitter feed, realising how much he really hates God and Christians. Besides condemning Christians for being judgmental and trying to impose their views on him, cursing the hypocrisy of Christ’s followers, and complaining about the injustice he is suffering at the hands of Christians, he is even signing petitions to de-establish the Church of England from the state. I was aggrieved to read some of the comments he has made in such a public domain, and am sad to see how much anger he feels towards people who love God. I scrolled through his feed, until I came across his comments on our dinner gathering.

He described the conversations that night as being “polite.” He was angry that we ignored his partner (which I honestly do not think we did- it is a little hard to have a conversation with someone from across a big round table, especially when you hardly even know that person!). He was annoyed that we all pretended not to see the big elephant in the room and point it out (well, I honestly did not think that he would have fancied us harping on about his alternative lifestyle every time we met him). He said that his partner does not want to ever see us again. Which means that he probably will not be seeing us again either.

To him, it was all our fault. The dinner was unpleasant because he has stupid Christian friends. Stupid Christians and their stupid bigoted opinions.

I am so angry and sad all at the same time. Angry at his hypocrisy in demanding that no Christian should impose their beliefs on others, yet I see him try so hard to force Christians to accept and condone his own beliefs. Angry that he should see none of the heartache that we have suffered because of him. Angry that he is making unfair accusations regarding our behaviour that seem to have been borne entirely out of his own imagination. Yet, I am sad. Sad that he has so completely rejected my friendship behind a facade of amicability. Sad that I do not seem to know who he is anymore. Sad that he has forsaken God without even a tinge of regret.

Our friendship is not even worth two pennies to him now. Is it time for me to let go too? Why should I hold on to someone who hates everything and everyone I love? Why should I have to feel so upset and hurt to see him self-destruct simply because I care? Why should I have to feel so battered and bruised by the person who betrayed this friendship first?

Today, I am tempted to forsake this friendship. Yet today, I also remember that Jesus suffered the very same emotions as I do now. In fact, he suffered worse. Jesus loved a world of sinners who hated him.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

Jesus never even considered forsaking the sinners who nailed him to the cross. Maybe I should not forsake my friend too.

Dear Lord, this is so hard.

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