This is a hotly debated topic.
But here is what drives me and I think it should drives Christians:
Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
How a Christian loves cannot be determined by popular vote, cultural norms, nor worldly demands. A Christian should love in only one way: imitating God.
What the world expects
Most people would say this: God’s love looks like someone who would rather die for someone else than to condemn them.
Because as you know Jesus did not come to condemn, he came to save.
So when I say: abortion is a sin, immediately someone has something to say.
- “You can’t be judgmental!”
- “Who are you to call something a sin?”
- Some other phases meaning, that if I call someone’s action a sin, then I am actually doing something wrong.
How should Christian’s love?
Let me just bullet point it:
- To say that Jesus did not come to condemn people but to save, misses the entire point. Why? Because what need was there to save us? Right! We were condemned already. Before Jesus came to die for us, all humanity was already declared to be condemned, so when was that declaration made and by WHOM was it made? It was declared in the Garden by God. So to say, “Jesus didn’t come to condemn,” is not the same thing as saying, “Don’t say condemning things because Jesus didn’t and we are just struggling and need help.”
- Next, to call out someone’s judgmental comment (which I don’t think it is judgmental but we will hit that next) is in itself judgmental and therefore you are contradicting your own standard.
- Third, the idea that we should not judge is so very misinformed. Matthew 7:1 needs to be read in its full context and stop being such a lousy Bible reader. And while we are at it: be clear with your word: judgmental. Do you mean: stop distinguishing between things that are good and bad? Or do you mean stop labeling behavior what the Bible labels it? Or do you mean stop pronouncing someone’s eternal destination? What exactly do you mean?
- Fourth, The kind of love that God has called us to show involves a few things:
- Providing Necessities – Helping to provide the necessities of life. (contraceptives, iphones, health insurance do not count as life necessities) (Matthew 25:35-36). We have, in the west, accustomed ourselves to believe that the right to a doctor or to medical care really is a necessity in life. But I do not believe that it is.
- Pointing out sin – 1 Corinthians 5 makes it clear that part of what love looks like in the local church is confronting sin not ignoring it. Now clearly this is love in the church. What about to outsiders and those of a different religious tradition or without any religion (not that I believe this is possible)? See the next point.
- Calling for repentance – How did Jesus deal with lost people? I mean how did Jesus deal with those who were not at all in agreement with him? How did Jesus deal with those who were not seeking him nor did they like him? Oh right, that was the Pharisees! He called them white washed tombs, hypocrites, brood of vipers and so on. You see, what you thought I was going to say is that, “Jesus treated the sinners with kindness.” Why is it that everyone thinks that the prostitutes, the fishermen, the Marys and Marthas of Jesus’ day were the sinners? I find that the rebellious world out there today, has far more in common with Pharisees than with the social outcasts of Jesus’ day. The social outcasts were clamoring to follow Jesus. The Pharisees and today the lost world was not.
- Showing kindness to the humble – The often-quoted story of the woman caught in adultery is used to talk about how we should treat people. But two things about this story: one the woman did not come to her own defense, but stayed silent. I take that to mean she was demeaned, felt humiliated, dejected, embarrassed. She was certainly being cowed. So maybe there was and maybe there wasn’t true humility, but there was at least a situational contrition enough that Jesus didn’t add to her shame. Secondly, Jesus did not at all believe she was innocent. He knew she was guilty. He called her out on her guilt by saying: go and sin no more.
Christians I know it is tempting to follow the world’s mantra of “love never criticizes or calls out sin” but really, that is just not true. That is the world’s way of loving, it is not God’s. If we give this ground over, we have nothing left to say to the world. Because the gospel is for sinners, if we cannot call out sin, we cannot offer the gospel.