Hate and I in the Catechism
On the first read, the Heidelberg Catechism’s use of the word “hate” in Q&A 5 seems a bit harsh. In fact, my natural reaction is, “How can I hate my neighbor when I am involved in homeless ministry?” Yet I am confronted with Q&A 62: “Because the righteousness which can pass God’s judgment must be entirely perfect and must in every way measure up to the divine law. But even our best works in this life are imperfect and stained with sin”, a clear echo of Isaiah 64:6, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.” I believe by using the word “hate”, the Catechism is attempting to shock us into seeing how far short we fall to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37, 39). How far short I fall of perfectly loving God and my neighbor is obvious to me on a daily basis. According to the Catechism and Scripture, that imperfection is no better than hate. Such an indictment makes me uncomfortable when I think of the vile actions committed out of hate seen on the news. Praise Christ for His mercy!