Upon reading an article about one Singaporean pastor’s reaction and opposition to the LGBT Pink Dot festival held in Singapore (whose behaviour I must admit, sounded pretty irrational), one of my coworkers made a remark about how unloving some people were, then turned to me and said, “What would Jesus do?! He would just love everyone and accept them for who they are!”
“I’m not sure you’d want to know what Jesus would really think,” I said quietly, “Jesus did love everyone… but, you know – it is possible to love everyone while not agreeing with them or accepting what they do,” I added.
“That’s true…” he conceded.
Our conversation stopped there, but as I saw all the posts today – either saying that “Love wins,” or “Our country is going down the drain” – it got me thinking about the topic again.
Does love win? Has love won?
Sadly, there only seems to be two major ways that vocal people have handled this issue (so far as I have seen on social media) – complete and total acceptance/tolerance, or blatant and outright condemnation. People either choose to stay in the camp of “love” or the camp of “law,” not realizing that the two are not mutually exclusive. There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground being practiced, and it saddens me.
I have seen so many of those who claim Christianity post things that come across as very derogatory or hateful towards those who they disagree with over the last couple of days – and I have seen many of my friends post things expressing joy over the recent decision and hatred towards all those who would even think of objecting to such things. Both of these responses make me sad.
It makes me sad that the bad reputation and unbalanced preaching in the name of Christianity precedes my behaviour and taints people’s view of how I am going to react before I even get a chance to open my mouth. And it makes me sad to see that because of the militant behaviour of some I am tarnished with a brush that says: “Hateful Christian” by all those in favour of tolerance.
It is because of the kinds of people that post angry and hateful things against homosexuals that homosexuality has become an issue that people often bring up when I say I am a Christian. It’s like a test. “Are you one of those intolerant, closed-minded people? Are you homophobic?”
I am quick to point out that if what I have is really a phobia, then I must be just as homophobic as I am alcoholic-o-phobic, fornicator-o-phobic, or liar-o-phobic (I know, they aren’t words, but give me this one). As all of these practices are contrary to my beliefs, I simply cannot agree with them—but that does not mean I treat those who are ensnared by them differently to anyone else. I have had many friends who drink, swear, gamble, are homosexuals, live with their partners before marriage, and so on – though I personally agree with none of these things. Yet, I can still say that I have truly loved these people. How? Because there is no contradiction between law and love. I can say that I still love those I disagree with, because love does not demand a total acceptance of everything someone does. Disagreeing with what an individual is doing does not mean that I stop loving them or trying to help them.
It also doesn’t mean that I have to post things making fun of them or expressing hatred towards them. Is that really the way to win over a soul? To laugh openly at someone for their beliefs? Really? Think about it.
If I say I am a follower of God and His Word, I cannot agree with a lot of the things people do. In fact, a true love for others will not allow me to simply agree and be content with the way that their lives are headed. True love causes me to act in every way out of a loving, living and active concern for their souls. If I truly believe that something is not the best way of life for someone – if I see that God in His law has brought condemnation upon a certain activity – how can I simply pretend everything is okay?
Love is supposed to be practiced along with the law I follow. God’s law doesn’t mean that I throw away love. In fact, I cannot keep the law without keeping love. Love is commanded in God’s law.
Love—true agape love—demands that I do what is best for each soul, because true love always seeks what is best for another. Because of this, love demands law.
God is Love. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is so characterized by love that He is said to be love. Yet, it serves us well to remember that even God, our perfect example of love, does not accept everyone, though He loves everyone. God wants us to teach all of His will and love all people enough to help them to become what He wants them to become (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Peter 3:9; et. al.). We need to show the same love to everyone—God doesn’t rank sins and neither should we. He places the murderer and the prostitute beside liars and the spiritually fearful (cf. Revelation 21:8).
The key is balance. All people and all sins are to be treated equally. Let’s live and teach the law in love, because love and law are inseparable.
We must keep both love and law to have God abiding in us (1 John 3:24; 4:16).
Love wins, every time – it’s just that love isn’t always what people say it is or want it to be. Love doesn’t win when we tolerate and accept sin. Simply tolerating someone is not true love. If it was, then our God would not be a God of love, because He required people to change. True love – governed by law – wins every time, because those who truly love not only treat people the way they themselves want to be treated, but also seek to win souls over with their love. True love wins every time because it is governed by the law of the One Who is love, and teaches us how to love. To truly love someone – to love them in accordance with God’s law – is tough. It requires effort, patience, loving guidance, and at times, being rejected. To simply accept, tolerate, and say nothing about what people do is easy. It takes guts to love without compromise.
“Open rebuke is better than secret love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:5, 6)
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How can we keep the law in love?
1. Remember where you have come from (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
No matter how good you are, you have not always been good. You have made mistakes. Remember that you have done things to hurt God just as any other person has. If you have changed, so too can anyone else.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should re stop re him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
2. Remember that how you say something is just as important as what you are saying (Ephesians 4:15).
Your mother was right when she told you “It is not what you said, it’s how you said it.” Even if you are telling someone the truth, you can turn someone completely off a beautiful truth by using ugly words or offering them at inappropriate times. The truth is beautiful and liberating. Do your best to present it in an attractive package so people can see it for what it is.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15)
3. Consider how you would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
Think about how you would like someone to talk to you if you were caught up in a sin, and treat others accordingly. Would you want someone to love you enough to tell you the truth? How would you like that truth to be communicated to you? The golden rule is easy to forget, but it is vital part of living the way that God wants us to live.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).
4. Remember the end of a lost soul (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
No matter who someone is or what they have done, you do not want them to suffer because you did not tell them the truth in a loving way. Let it not be said of you, “You never mentioned Him to me!” or, “I thought you couldn’t possibly have the truth because you were so unloving!”
“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:22, 23)
5. Remember that all sins need to be lovingly addressed—law is love (Acts 20:27).
Yes, homosexuality, abortion, fornication, and immodesty exist in the world. Yes, the supporters of and participants in these sins are growing in number. Yes, this is sad for society. However there are many other things wrong with society, many of them much closer to home and able to be applied to our very selves. Be active in opposing all that is wrong—not just a certain set of obvious sins.
“for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
6. Never compromise (2 Timothy 4:2, 3)
Sure, a lot of what we believe is not popular right now and people are going to call us intolerant and close-minded—that is okay. Let them. If you have done your best to say what you need to in love, then you have done your part. Love dictates how we say things—but love will not let us compromise in what we say. Love is not separate from truth.
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season: reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:2, 3)
7. Remember that while we are told to “root out, to pull down and to destroy, and throw down” false practices, we are also told to “to build and to plant” (cf. Jeremiah 1:10)
When our Christianity is always on the offensive, we can become blinded to the fact that we need to be encouraging those who are doing the right thing. Remember that the more people who are encouraged to be strong and stay strong, the better society will be for future generations. People can easily become discouraged if all they hear about is how bad everything and everyone is. Be active in supporting, encouraging, and upholding as examples those who go out of their way to help the poor, show kindness, encourage others, and build strong families.
“See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).
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Do you have any questions about anything I have said? Please feel free to contact me for further information or clarification!