Love. What a loaded and nuanced concept that the world keeps getting wrong. American culture and the slowly fading post-modern movement are in the process of redefining love. Liberal theologians, rock star mega-church pastors and their undiscerning followers are guzzling the liberal love kool-aid by the bucket full and the visible church in America is suffering because of it. Their bankrupt view of love is not derived from or defined by Scripture any longer, instead it is defined by what society deems lovely. It’s being redefined by our culture and adopted by professing believers in Christ. This is to say that in our modern culture love isn’t supposed to offend. Love must be universally accepting no matter if one engages in a lifestyle of sin. Love is dependent on human emotion so it changes like a chameleon. Love, as defined by society, affirms sin to avoid making someone feel bad and the mainline church swallowed this shallow idea our culture calls love. What a travesty! In reality love separated from biblical truth is not love. It is hate.
To be sure the bible speaks endlessly of love and exhorts Christians to love people, both believers and unbelievers indiscriminately as Christ did. We are to love those who persecute us, those who seek to tear us down, those who hate God and His commandments. God’s infallible, inerrant and completely perfect Word instructs Christians to walk in a way worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to that end we must remain faithful to the Word of God by loving those who hate or oppose us. I fall short, in fact, we all fall short of such commandments. No doubt we struggle to love those who hate us and even those who don’t because we’re sinners. We will continue to fall short of God’s demands while in the flesh and we must continually guard against destructive and judgmental behavior through constant bible study and prayer. We must be steadfast in prayer and bible study because society is bent on, and succeeding, at perverting the very concept of biblical love and professing believers are blindly falling in line. Love is being replaced with a emotionally driven, morally relativistic, insufficient, totally sentimental form of love that in actuality is hateful to unbelievers… stick with me and allow me to explain.
Before I go any further let me be clear about what I am not saying. I am not making a case to be offensive for the sake of being offensive. I am not calling for Christians to abandon gracious attitudes toward the lost or condone the harsh treatment of unbelievers. I am certainly not advocating the twisted and childish tactics employed by apostates such as the Westboro Baptist cult. These attitudes toward the lost are harmful, unbiblical and unacceptable for any Christian. Period. No exceptions. So, what am I saying? Well, sometimes (most of the time?) biblical truth hurts. It hurts because the bible exposes us to our corrupt and sinful nature. The bible affirms that no one is righteous, not even one. The wonderful Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive and we can’t change that nor should we try to. The cross is folly to those who aren’t in Christ and the bible makes that point abundantly clear in 1 Corinthians, look it up, it’s there. So what’s the issue?
You see, when I hear professing Christians speak about loving sinners I have to stop and listen closely with a discerning ear. What do they mean by love? Have they cowered to the screaming voices and stomping feet of our relativistic culture and abandoned their biblical position in an effort to avoid confrontation? Unfortunately, most of the time, the answer seems to be a resounding ‘yes’. Love, it seems, is being redefined by professing Christians in an eerily similar way that our secular culture has redefined marriage. Systematically. By and large the evangelical mainline church has reduced love down to mere sentimentality and abandoned biblical truth to avoid offending unbelievers. Capitulating on biblical truth to appease the conscience of those who aren’t in Christ, all in the name of love, is nothing less than watering down the gospel.
A prime example of cashing in biblical truth to appease our anything-goes-as-long-as-it-makes-you-feel-good culture is the Marin Foundation’s ‘I’m Sorry’ campaign. On the surface the campaign looks to be a legitimate ministry. Its goal? To apologize to the LGBT community for the past transgressions of the visible church. The Marin Foundation says it is committed to “making the first step towards relational reconciliation in a tangible way“. I don’t have an issue with that statement although I find it a little ambiguous. I’m willing to admit that harm has been done to the LGBT community by professing Christians. In fact I’m certain of it; after all we’re sinners. However, upon further inspection of the core goals and philosophy of the Marin Foundation’s ‘I’m Sorry’ campaign it becomes sickeningly clear that saying “I’m sorry” is the only thing they advocate…and that is something I take issue with.
You will be hard pressed to find the gospel proclaimed, let alone mentioned, anywhere on the Marin Foundation’s website. Of all the testimonials I read through I couldn’t find one instance where the gospel was clearly and accurately proclaimed to the lost or otherwise. Apologizing to the LGBT community for the past transgressions of the visible church worked to open lines of communication. It briefly opened the door to boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ but that opportunity was quickly squandered away while professing Christians hugged it out with the lost. Instead of following up their apology with a biblical picture of what sin is and how we all deserve God’s righteous judgment these professing believers affirmed the lost in their sin by not sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One can only assume they failed to preach the gospel in an effort to love these people and not offend them! What kind of love is that?
The Marin Foundation and its disciples aren’t the only group at fault for such blatant biblical ignorance but one I take particular exception with because the publicity it garnered via social media. The Marin Foundation’s ‘I’m Sorry’ campaign is what a culture friendly love looks like. Void of any truth. Affirming sin in the name of love. The Emergent Church and it’s so called pastors like Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt are equally guilty of replacing biblical truths with post-modern philosophy. They work hard at replacing orthodox Christianity with a culture friendly version of the gospel which really is no gospel at all. Many mainline denominations are guilty of this biblical treason too. Instead of leading the lost to the cross of Christ these so-called-believers are leading the lost straight to the gates of hell. Such is the post-modern times we live in. The scary thing is that this love, a love founded mainly on emotion and a desire to be accepted by the modern culture, is infiltrating once-upon-a-time conservative churches and changing the narrative of love within evangelical circles. People are buying in to this secular brand of love and we’re losing souls in the process. Some kinda love huh?
Why would we, as professing Christians, affirm a sinner in their sin? To know the love of Christ is to understand what He did at Calvary. He was our perfect substitute. He paid the price we could not pay. Christ bore the full wrath of God on the cross for those who call out to Him and repent of their sin. We are all sinners in need of a Savior! Those who are found in their sin at the day of judgement will suffer God’s righteous wrath and will spend eternity apart from Him. Proclaiming these truths to those who aren’t in Christ is true love. It is biblical love. To exclude these biblical truths from our dialogue with the lost is nothing short of being criminally negligent with all of eternity on the line.
I heard a brother in Christ use a splendid and very clear metaphor for what I’m driving at in this post so I’ll borrow it for the sake of time. The metaphor goes like this: there is a blind man walking toward a cliff, if he walks off this cliff he will surely die. Watching this blind man make his way toward certain death are two men. One man calls out to the blind man and tells him that Jesus loves him, he shouts that he himself loves the blind man but never warns him of the cliff and his certain doom if he doesn’t change course immediately. The second man observing the blind man trotting to his death calls out in a loud voice and warns him to stop. He rightly warns the blind man of his coming fate and orders him to stop and turn around otherwise he will die. Who loved the blind man more? What kind of love is this? This, brothers and sisters, is the biblical love we need to exhibit and bring to our dying world.
Soli Deo Gloria!