What is "Christian love" though?

You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say. -Martin Luther

“Love” has become sort of a “pet-virtue” of American Christian society. “Christians are supposed to love” has become a term used to bully Christians who actually stand up for Christ into shutting their mouths in the name of “Christian love.”

In talking about love, our generations pet-virtue, Fred Rogers said, “It is an active noun, like ‘struggle.'”

I liked that. Because, all too often, our definition of “love” is too close to the world’s definition of “tolerance” or “respect.” Dictionary.com defined “tolerance” as “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry; a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.”

This is the definition people have adopted for “Christian love”, and it is NOT Biblical love. Are we really called to have “a permissive attitude toward” sinful lifestyles that differ from the Bible? Are we called to keep our mouths shut and “don’t judge”? The world says, “You can have your Jesus and your religion, but don’t force it on me…” Is that what the Bible says we are supposed to do?

Let’s talk about it.

So Jesus loved, right? Yes. More than anyone who has or will ever live. He loved. He loved us so much that He left the splendor of heaven to come to our crummy sin-filled earth and live 33 years. In that 33 years, he did all things for God’s glory. No matter the opinion of man, He loved us enough to openly rebuke sin. He loved us enough to tell us the way we were living was wrong. He loved us enough to extend grace and mercy when it was warranted and speak the stinging truth when it was called for. He loved us enough to tell us God’s way is not only better, but best. He loved us enough to make people so mad with what He was telling them that they tried to kill him {more than once}. Then He loved us enough endure hatred, betrayal, lying, beating, spitting, whipping, crucifixion, the weight of sin, and the wrath of God all so that we could come to know His father. He sacrificed his life and perfect communion with God so that we do not have to spend an eternity in hell, but in heaven with God.

Jesus Christ had a LOVE that moved Him to ACT without FEAR on behalf of TRUTH. This is the love we are called to have.

Too many Christians in America today sit in their homes, go and sing in their churches, and live their lives without EVER experiencing real soul-stirring Biblical love for another person. Love that puts another person above themselves. Love that holds no reservations when speaking the truth about the gospel and what it contains. Love that puts the eternal soul of another person above all the mockery and offense from the world. Love that SPEAKS out for God and what He is really all about.

You see, Christianity starts with tolerance. Jesus says, “Come as you are, but then, I’m going to change you.” If we never call people to repentance, if we never say “The way you’re thinking is wrong, the way you’re acting is wrong, the lifestyle you’ve chosen, the identity you’ve embraced, the actions that you celebrate are ones you should be mourning,” then we’re no longer Christians. We’re no longer faithful. We’re no longer loving.

This tolerant “Christian love” that American Christianity wants to claim today teaches that Jesus was always in love with everyone and never got angry and walked around patting children on the head all the time. And as a result, we have raised a generation of Christians who will not even stand up for themselves, let alone stand up for God and the right. We teach them to give up their backbone in fear of man… and this mystical “nice-guy” Jesus. That’s not my Jesus or the Jesus of the Bible.

R. C. Sproul says, ‘When I became a Christian, I understood that Jesus took my sin away. What I never heard from Him was that He intended to take my backbone away.”

“Tolerance” can’t confront this world’s sources of pain. “Niceness” makes people agreeable, not good. Somehow we have mistaken niceness for righteousness.

“I’ve learned through the years that seekers are not impressed with spinelessness. Most of the time, seekers respect and admire Christians who aren’t afraid to take a stand. Seekers have little respect for weak Christians. Deep down they’re looking for somebody–anybody–to step up and PROCLAIM the truth and then to LIVE it boldly.” Bill Hybels

The love that the Bible commands us to have is a love that motivates us to act without fear on behalf of truth. It calls us to be like our Savior who is full of grace AND truth. As in Ephesians where Paul instructs the church leaders who were passionate against perversion of truth, but were not motivated by Biblical love of God and man.

Good people are both gentle and rugged. Jesus was the embodiment of both qualities depending on the circumstance.

Love does not call for “no offense.” It IS power to overcome the fear of offending.

God the father doesn’t mince words. There is nothing mealy in his mouth. He isn’t touchy, and he doesn’t make us walk on eggshells. Because God is good, he is solid and firm, so you don’t have to guess what he thinks. That is the exact opposite of cowardly, fake “loving” people.

We should thank God that rather than being nice, he is holy. We should be grateful that we are not the descendants of fearful men, but of spiritual fathers who were unafraid, to speak, to write, and to defend causes that then, just as now, were ridiculed.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Read the gospels and get to know the real Jesus without the “gentle” cultural bias, and you will discover He portrayed very little of this fake virtue we have come to call “Christian love.” He was sarcastic and rough and unconventional and courageous and confrontational and good. In most churches today, if they were honest, they would say, absurdly, Christ is not a “Christian.” He brought division and conflict to a world that desperately needed it, and He was motivated by the righteousness and love and glory of His father.

People want a guilt-free life. They don’t want the mockery from our Don’t-judge-me generation. They don’t want to stand up for God because they don’t want to face criticism from the world. Think of how pleasing the illusion of a conflict free life is. Who can confront you with criticism if you never do anything noticeable?

God says the righteous are as bold as a lion standing up for injustice and fighting against what they know to be untrue.

Realize that what we often call valorous modern-day “Christian love” has nothing to do with the virtue of being kind or loving, and has everything to do with cowardly passivity in disguise.

Sadly, this cowardly passivity is hurting the cause of Christ. It is turning men into mice, and Christians into closed-mouthed cowards- too afraid to really say what Bible says about sin and hell and call people to repentance- too afraid of “offending”- too afraid to step on anyone’s toes, and it is sending people to hell.

We can not keep hiding what the Bible says or the world will go to hell. The Bible does not need us to protect it. Our calling is to PREACH it.

Charles Spurgeon put it this way,

“It is absolutely necessary to the preaching of the gospel of Christ that men be warned as to what will happen if they continue in their sins. Ho, ho, sir surgeon, you are too delicate to tell the man that he is ill! You hope to heal the sick without their knowing it. You therefore flatter them, and what happens? They laugh at you; they dance upon their own graves. At last they die! Your delicacy is cruelty; your flatteries are poisons; you are a murderer. Shall we keep men in a fool’s paradise? Shall we lull them into soft slumbers from which they will awake in Hell? Are we to become helpers of their damnation by our smooth speeches? In the name of God, we will not.”

Wake up! We wouldn’t refrain from running into our neighbor’s house engulfed in flames because we were afraid to “offend them,” would we? No! And there is a fire much worse and an eternity of suffering awaiting those who do not know, and we are going to claim that not telling them is “Christian love?” Really?

That is loving no one but ourselves.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Romans 13:11

“God’s justice stands forever against the sinner in utter severity. The vague and tenuous hope that God is ‘too kind’ to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions. It hushes their fears and allows them to practice all pleasant forms of iniquity, while death draws everyday nearer and the command to repent goes unregarded. As responsible moral beings, we dare not so trifle with our eternal future.” – A. W. Tozer

We are called to be bold. We are called to have the love that Jesus had– A love that motivated us to act without fear on behalf of truth. 

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

There is no time for us to be cowardly. There is no time for us to keep our mouths shut. People are condemned to hell already. It is time to get up and fight. It is time to open our mouths. We have to warn them that without Christ’s covering over their sins, they will undoubtedly go to an eternal hell.

We have to stop thinking of ourselves, and being afraid to take a stand. We have to be motivated by a real love that moves us to action just as our spiritual fathers long before us fought to see the souls of men snatched from the fire. Just as every martyr down through history gave their very lives preaching the TRUTH of God’s word to a sinful, dying world. We have got to be moved by a REAL LOVE to speak out for God. This is the Love of Jesus Christ. Thank God that He loved us enough to act.

 

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. I really loved this word, thank you for sharing it. Is kind of hard for me to stand up to people and confront them on the way they’re living, I always try to find a way to do it gently or with “love”, but sometimes (always) they just need to hear the truth. I say that I hate conflict, but I guess is my way of evading what I really have to do, even if it’s awkward for me. God bless you.

    Like

  2. This was such an inspiring blog post! And I definitely agree with what you’ve said! However, when living this out practically, there are sometimes public situations where if I were to speak out about certain issues, I would not be changing anything but potentially hurting someone deeply. I agree that the truth must be defended and preached and sometimes it is all I can do to sit quietly, but do you think there are also situations where it is more effective to do this is privately?

    For example, at my college, especially in my English classes, my professors love to spark interesting discussions. Normally, I LOVE these. They give me an opportunity to speak out for what I believe and think through important cultural and ethical issues. However, when the topic is something like abortion, in a classroom setting you never know what someone else may have gone through or be going through. Yes, it is still wrong. However, a public debate on the ethics of abortion won’t speak personally to them, their needs, or their situation. It won’t be able to share the hope of the gospel with them. It can only hurt them. Sometimes our call to action depends on the situation. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven….a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7; ESV).

    Not that some people are not called to stand up and speak out publicly, but some people can be called to share the gospel through more intimate relationships. Helping others and acting without fear on behalf of truth can look different in different situations. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul urges us to “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” There are different ways of dealing with different people. One size doesn’t fit all.

    Anyway, I really enjoyed this blog post. It was inspiring, it was brave, it was persuasive, and it was very well written! I completely agree with what you’ve said. The gospel needs to be shared. The truth must be revealed and defended and preached. There is an ongoing fight and we must act. But sometimes that action looks different than at others, and we must keep that in mind.

    (I’m simply putting this out here to maybe generate some discussion and ask for clarification – great post and great message!)

    Like

    • I do not agree that we should keep shut when an opportunity to defend the truth comes up. We are always called to speak on behalf of truth. ALWAYS. However, I am not saying that we do not speak gracefully. We are definitely not called to bash anyone over the head with their sin. We always are to use wisdom and tact when speaking the truth. Sometimes more tenderness is needed than harshness, but it is always truth and we are always called to speak it. God’s words never return void.

      Jesus did not tolerate or ignore sin. He never kept his mouth shut when an opportunity to speak the truth came along. He said, Come, leave your sin behind and follow me. He said to the woman taken in adultery that the pharisees wanted to stone, “Go and sin no more.”

      As Christians, we should be the most accepting and loving group of people the world will ever see. We should open our arms to EVERYONE no matter what sin they are in because NO sin is greater than the grace of our God. We should be able to say, “Come with me, and I will show you Jesus. Because you can be freed from your sin, and no longer a slave to it.” We were once sinners, but now our blind eyes are opened and we see the light of the salvation. This is our calling, nothing less.

      Like

  3. This was a powerful post Lauren!! I never pass up a chance to share Christ with ANYONE. My husband and I have an Evangelistic Ministry, where we street preach. And will start on the weekend in front of the night clubs, dead center of downtown Charlotte. As children of God, we are commanded by Him to do just this! Thank you, always for your transparency. Amazing!

    Like

  4. WOW!! You should really think about writing a book sis. You’re such a good writer. Thank you for this post and bringing me back to His Heart!! Wow. Still meditating … Powerful.

    Anyways, stay blessed.
    Blessings from Namibia

    Like

  5. Challenging and inspiring. I especially appreciated, the idea of niceness making people agreeable and not good. Too often, being nice is just an excuse to slack on holiness. Thank you for sharing this!

    Like

  6. Wow thank you for this post! I found this to be so encouraging. The Lord sent the link to this post my way exactly when I needed it this evening. God bless!
    ~Julie
    tokyoblossomboutique.blogspot.com

    Like

  7. Its funny, I had read something that left me questioning what the author of the article was really trying to say about Christian love. Kinda sounded like the “American Jesus” in an article I read by bold&unashamed. Left me wanting a clear response as to what exactly Christian love truly is. I am so glad I read this blog of yours. You are truly blessed and have a gift for writing. Really enjoyed this, and I definitely will share this blog. God Bless you and “keep on keeping on” =) Look forward to reading more!

    Like

    • Thank You so much, Britney!! That is so encouraging to hear! Funny thing is that my brother is the author of Bold and Unashamed. :] He does a great job with it in writing to Christian young people…especially guys! Thanks so much for the encouragement!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s