"hate and Love" - Sermon on Psalm 85 / Pr. Lucas A. Albrecht / Wed March 6th 2019: Ash Wednesday / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Psalm 85
Theme: Anger and Love
Intr – Here’s a quote for you: "He who believes in freedom of the will has never loved and never hated." Take it in a poetic or an ironic way, there are traces of reality on this phrase. When we feel in love we more often than not are enslaved to the object of that love - even if we are not loved back. We end up making choices connected to it, we give up preferences just to satisfy it. In this case, we live what we usually call a “blind love”. Now, as strange as it may seem, the same thing happens when we hate. When hatred, anger consume us they also blind us. Our lives start to revolve around the person or situation that is hated. When we hate we freeze a great part of our own life to become slaves of that one feeling.
On Psalm 85 we hear the Psalmist crying to the Lord, “Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger for generations?”The answer: He won’t. Still, when we recall the history of God’s People, and we see how many times they fell from Grace and indulged into sin, it is really appalling how Yahweh would still be prone to forgive them over and over again. How come?
It is because God has free will. The only One who has it in the full sense of the word. The Lord may become angry, but He is never enslaved to anything – let alone hate, anger or wrath. It is really difficult for us to understand that because we cannot get angry without sinning. Bad feelings and thoughts run across our mind when anger consumes our heart. That is not the case with God. His anger is not merely a feeling, an emotion, a vengeance-filled piece of sentiment that spills over human race in an irrational modus operandi. God’s anger is action taken against unholiness. God’s anger and sin are like fire and heat, water and wetness, SK’s winter and snow; they always go together. God’s wrath is manifested against people, for sure, but against sinful people. The actual anger is against sin. God hates sin. When it comes to our hatred there are two good quotes to illustrate it: “Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one.” And “Hatred always looks for an object, but its aim is pretty bad.” That is not the case at all with God though. He has all the right reasons to be angry and manifest His wrath against a very definite object – Sin.
So how do you escape it? You are a person, a sinful one, a hundred per cent. When sin is there His anger will show up too. Remember – January and snow; always together.
The key is in God's love toward the human being which also has to do with freedom of choice: He chose freely to love us. His love is not a blind, selfish, enslaved type of love that binds Him to an irrational feeling. His love is manifested in a person, His son - Jesus Christ. The Messiah came to us, he took the first step. There is a key verb on Psalm 85 – shuv, to turn. It appears over a thousand times in the Old Testament, and here it is pointing to God’s action of turning hate of sin into Love for sinner, as He again forgives His people and “restores the fortunes of Jacob”. God’s anger doesn’t last forever. He turns things from the sinful human reality into a loving realm of forgiveness and peace in Christ.
Psalm 85 has some aspects that we found already on Psalm 74, and preaching on that Psalm, Pastor Giese wrote: “…and one day when they seek after this place in a time of distress…if they somehow were able to keep their faith - by the grace of the Holy Spirit - find themselves crying out for God asking, “remember me!”… “Help me!” At such a time they will need to know that the church, the bride of Christ has been saved in Christ alone at the cross in the midst of suffering. That there in that place, at Golgotha, the ultimate rescue has already happened. That was the place where The Right Hand of God, Jesus, was taken from the fold of God’s garment and revealed to the nations once for all, where Jesus with His innocent blood shed by wicked men destroyed the true enemies of mankind: Sin, Death, the Devil, the World and even our obstinate willful souls which was by nature in rebellion to God.” Even though we remain sinful people, now God’s Love is manifested to us because of Christ.
God may manifest hate, anger at times but He is Love. He gives us love. Not that type of love we mentioned in the beginning that enslaves us to people or earthly things. Here’s an illustration about what is Love in the Scriptures: Think of a person you love very much, a person you really appreciate, like, admire. You love him or her. Now, what happens when that person commits a mistake? Or when you hear him or her saying things you don’t like to hear? When you catch them midway of a sin in progress? What happens when she is not very understanding as you’d like to, when he does not show affection in concrete actions towards you? What is your reaction when this beloved person is ungrateful, or when he or she doesn’t follow what you requested them to do? What do you feel?
This question, “how do you feel?” misses the mark because it is obvious that we feel several things in front of each one of the situations. Sadness, anger, frustration, irritation...The question should be different: When those types of undesired things happen, do you stop loving them?
My guess: no. If you really love them, then no. When you compliment or when you reprehend; when you joyfully cheer or when you strongly disagree; in times of joy, in moments of sadness, love is there. Perhaps only in a different way, like a sad love, or a worried love, an anguished love. But still, and always, love. Actually, sometimes you say and do things that don’t make people you love very happy at the moment exactly because you love them.
This shows us that love is not just a 'feeling'. Feeling refers to evanescent and bouncy things such as joy and sadness, anger and relief, frustration and fulfillment. But love is principle. It is constant. As the Bible says, love never ends. God’s love never ends.
This is how God loves us. He doesn’t simply feel love, but He has love. He is love. He manifests hate – against sin – but he Is Love. When we obey and do the right thing He loves us. When we disobey and sin He loves us and calls us to change. It not that He is ok with error – as we see also from Psalm 85, he manifests His wrath against sin and unholiness - but He continues to love us. To Love, therefore, from the biblical perspective means firstly and above all to have love, not just to 'feel' it. Then, it is not to be enslaved, it means to be free. Free to serve. That’s why to love is a verb of action - words, actions, support, as we reach out to our neighbours. God has set the example, not only having love for us, or not just saying that he loves us, but acting, becoming a human being, living among us - Jesus Christ who gave His life for ours. Of course we cannot love perfectly as He loves us, but in Christ we are loved and we can have love. For him; for others.
Still thinking about the person you love I asked you to? I suppose so for those whom we love are always in our thoughts. Remember then also, that this is how God acts in our direction: He has us always on his mind. But most of all - and best of all – He never deploys us from His heart.
Cc – Now, from slaves to anger, to disobedience, to sin, and also from the wrong type of love, when we are embraced by this love by faith we become free. Free to love, to live, to learn, and serve in a way that we don’t need to let hatred incarcerate us in the prison cell of bitterness, as well as blind love to take away the autonomy and freedom to question, call out or instruct. We can share it. We will then hate to miss any of the opportunities we may find to share this freedom in love that Christ has provided us with. 
 Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
 Benjamin Franklin
-BRUG, John. A commentary on Psalms 73-150, p.102-109