I don’t know if this is just a recent phenomena in evangelical thinking or something that has been prevalent for many decades and I just hadn’t noticed. It’s this idea of “love” as being the singular characteristic or quality of God we as believers are to proclaim.
From my observation, we seem to think love – especially God’s love – is just this happy, content-with-everything, almost euphoric feeling of all things good and accepting of anything and everything. It’s like a soft, plushy pillow that conforms to anything placed on it.
This concept reveals itself when the church is confronted with some sort of concept or aberrant behavior that runs counter to a previously accepted societal norm or traditional doctrinal position held by the church for decades or longer. Those in the traditional church are considered “unloving” and those outside the church become the experts on what Scripture teaches.
But what is shocking is when those within the church body start making the same claim. That somehow, all we are supposed to do is “love each other” and nothing else. Anyone pointing out error in this new concept is accused of not “accepting” or “loving” and are labeled Pharisaical, legalistic and basically unloving. The primary basis (although maybe not the sole) for these conclusions is that “God is love and Jesus told us to love each other. After all, He is grace, love and mercy and we shouldn’t judge each other” or some derivative of the same.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in His love. Without His love, I don’t exist. Without His love, life means nothing. It’s only His love that sustains me. But what exactly do I mean when I refer to God’s love?
I’ll won’t go into Old Testament prophets about repentance since too many people somehow think Jesus’s teaching cancelled the Old Testament (which of course even Jesus said His teaching didn’t cancel the Old Testament – Matthew 5:17) so I’ll want to point out just one verse in the New Testament, Revelation 3:19.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. – Revelation 3:19 (NKJV)
Repent. That’s not a word we use much anymore, especially in this modern age of only speaking about God’s love. The word repent implies I need to change, that there is something wrong in my conduct or thinking and it needs corrected. So if God loves me (and I know He does), isn’t it reasonable to expect Him to correct me? Doesn’t it seem logical that there are areas in my life that need some rebuking and challenging?
Of course very few people would treat their own children the same way we want to treat unrepentant sinners. Sure, we love our kids, but we also correct them, guide them and at times, discipline them. So why can’t we understand that while God loves us, He does call us to something – repent? Instead, we are told to just love, accept and never point out what the Bible says about sinful behavior.
I wonder if we don’t like repentance because we don’t like brokenness. To repent, one must acknowledge their sinful behavior and need to submit to God’s authority in their life – for that particular thing. It’s brokenness and who wants to admit they’re broken. We want to be accepted, right as we are without any push or challenge to change our behavior.
We so rarely mention repentance as a necessary step to knowing God. We allow, coddle and even encourage a person to continue to live just how they are with no push to seek God’s help to change. That requires admission of wrong and brokenness which we’re afraid to challenge people to do and merely want to express God’s love as a fluffy, soft pillow.
It’s sad that our Gospel message has become so watered down that non-believers can’t even reject it.
Yes, God loves us. He loves all of us no matter what we’ve done or are doing. Yet He challenges us to live for Him and for ourselves. He does not want us to continue to wallow in our sin and neither should we want that of people. We do no one any favors by allowing sinful behavior to continue unabated and unchallenged. He is the author of life-change and our job is to introduce people to that life-change author. But it starts with brokenness and repentance and when we don’t encourage repentance, we are not fully demonstrating God’s love and present an incomplete picture of who He is.
Know this, God does love us and He has so much more for us than what we currently are experiencing if we just bow before Him and repent.
Blessings my friend.