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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.