A simple word that has all but lost its original meaning.
Christians and the world have a bad habit of judging one another without the authority to do so. Christians cannot be expected to adhere to worldly standards and vice versa. The world can judge their own, just as the body of Christ has a responsibility to hold one another accountable [rightly judging]. That also means we cannot expect that our definitions of love will match up or be similar. Logically this means we cannot, in our right minds, adopt the same mindset or perspective on love as the world does.
The world [media] teaches that love is:
- A fleeting emotion
- Based on circumstances
- The same thing as sympathy or empathy
- Limited to Social Justice issues
- Avoiding confrontation if you can spare someone’s feelings
Jesus teaches differently. Love encompasses many things and is described many ways (1 Corinthians 13) but what’s interesting is that love is never described as “ever-changing.” In fact, 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t just describing what “good” love looks like. It is describing the very characteristics of Jesus. Since we know that all scripture is God breathed, we also can rightly discern that it all works together. 1 John 4:8 states that God IS love, which goes hand in hand with the verses in Corinthians.
Now, it would be easy to just say What Would Jesus Do? and leave it up to interpretation of what the best form of love is. However, society and culture is dictating that the only thing Jesus would do when faced with sin or those who are overtly denying Him….is hug them and forgive them. While it is true that He is willing to do that…but it wasn’t just John the Baptist that called the Pharisees vipers:
John The Baptist
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of God against disobedience] that is coming? Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]; –Matthew 3:7-8
You offspring of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil (wicked)? For out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks. – Matthew 12:34
You serpents! You spawn of vipers! How can you escape the penalty to be suffered in hell (Gehenna)? – Matthew 22:33
So perhaps we have the definition of love all wrong. We have forgotten our first love, and what it truly means to love God and love others.
If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. – John 14:15
When Jesus asked Peter 3 times whether he loved Jesus, these were the answers Jesus gave in response to Peter:
- Feed My lambs
- Shepherd (tend) My sheep
- Feed My sheep
Not one response addressed an emotion. Jesus declared to Peter that if he truly loved Christ He would do the will of the Father and preach the gospel to those who have ears to hear so they might have eternal life.
For this is My Father’s will and His purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day. – John 6:40
In other words, Jesus was equating love with truth, with obedience to God’s Word.
Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth – John 17:17
The world would argue that sharing the truth is judgmental and rude. That it is an agenda of pushing a belief onto someone with a bigoted agenda. Let’s see how that holds up in a few simple scenarios.
Scenario 1 : Loving or not?
Everyone in the world is dying of cancer, some more aggressive than others. You have been given the cure for cancer and only a select few know it exists. This cure is readily available, in large supply and is free. It is both a vaccine and a medication for those currently ill. You have been given access to both. The vaccine is safe for all and the medication is as well. However, you don’t like telling people they are sick because even though you were sick and now are cured, it feels judgmental. Some people think you are crazy and that you should keep silent because you’ll offend people. So, to fit in…you keep the cure a secret. As time passes you slowly watch people die, knowing they could have been spared the pain and suffering but you decide, it was out of “love” and a desire not to offend, that your actions are justified.
Scenario 2 : Loving or not?
Everyone in the world is dying of cancer, some more aggressive than others. You have been given the cure for cancer and only a select few know it exists. This cure is readily available, in large supply and is free. It is both a vaccine and a medication for those currently ill. You have been given access to both. The vaccine is safe for all and the medication is as well. You begin distributing the cure and the vaccine to all those who need and want it. You meet opposition from groups of people who think you made everything up even though they can clearly see lives changed by this cure. They are angry because the cure requires acceptance of being sick, and a desire to change/become well. You are asked to stop speaking because you are offending people. You choose to ignore these requests to offer a cure to as many people as possible.
Which scenario is considered loving? According to the world, scenario 1 is the correct answer. It would be better to spare someone’s emotions and allow them to suffer and die, than to share the cure.
Christians need to understand that it is Scenario 2 that is the more “loving” response. Jesus already told us that not everyone will accept that He is the only way to eternal life, but He told us to stand firm. He also told us that the word of God is a double-edged sword, I.E. it divides the sheep from the goats, truth from a lie. The problem is, Christians are being duped into believing that there is only one “positive” outcome to preaching the truth. We are taught that when someone comes to faith in Jesus, it is the only acceptable result of sharing the gospel. Yet even when the first disciples were sent out Jesus told them that if they were not accepted, dust off their sandals and let God take care of them. Even HE knew that another acceptable and positive result of sharing the truth, was weeding out the wolves, getting people off the fence and into the camp they belong.
REJECTION is also an acceptable (though not desirable) outcome of sharing the truth and we have to be ok with that even if the world isn’t.
Share the truth regardless of the opposition. It is the most loving thing one can do. When we refuse to share truth (Like Jonah) we are saying that we do not want God to forgive them. We are stating that we do not want to spend eternity with them. And we are saying that we desire judgment and evil upon them. When we withhold truth, we are hoping that they will hear the words “I never knew you” as the last words they will ever here before they are eternally tormented by their own choices. That…is not very loving.
Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching – 2 Timothy 4:2