As Christians, we talk a lot about loving people. We say things such as, “Love the sinner but hate the sin.” Or, “Love the unlovable because God loved you when you were unlovable.” Personally, I like this one, “Love them all, let God sort them out!”
But I think like a lot of Christian platitudes, this is easier said than done. How do you actually go about loving someone with whom you strongly disagree not intellectually but morally? How do you love people you see rebelling against God and His ways, doing evil, and attacking you for being intolerant, bigoted, and all the rest because you hold to a biblical worldview? I want to spend a few minutes thinking through that with you this morning.
Maybe you are like me and get conflicted sometimes. Jesus told us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, not judge others, show mercy and grace in all things, and be humble. Yet, Jesus also told us to shake the dust from our feet when people reject the gospel, while Paul tells us not to hang around unbelievers at all and both told us reject worldly things completely!
I find myself getting frustrated in today’s culture where socially everything must be accepted as permissible. And in doing so, I find myself not necessarily loving the people involved in this “everything goes” world.
But then I stop myself and remember this: Everyone is fallen. All fall short of the glory of God. And Satan has blinded the world to the truth.
These three truths help me actually love the people doing things with which I morally object. At the risk of offending some of my friends, I’m going to dig deeper here.
I have a number of homosexual friends. I’m sure you do as well. I firmly believe what scripture says – homosexuality is a sin – period. However, I actually don’t have any objection to those who say they were “born that way.” As a fallen person, they may very well have been born that way! And God knew they would be born that way or at least would have same-sex attraction and act on it.
I love my friends and I hope they know that through how I have interacted with them over the years. I also think they know that I am a Christian who not just “disagrees with their lifestyle” but thinks they are in open rebellion to God! So, what should I do?
First, I’m honest if it comes up, which it rarely does. Second, I understand they are fallen and are blinded by Satan and truly believe what they are doing is okay. Third, I accept that many of my friends have rejected God’s grace and that is their right! Thus, I feel as if I can be friends with them within my faith system, yet allow them to use their free-will to choose what they will. Here’s the hard truth: They are choosing to spend eternity in hell rather than with Jesus. They are choosing to be judged based on their own righteousness rather than on Jesus’ righteousness. They are choosing to live for this world rather than the next. And they would reject everything I have just written which again is their choice.
I love these friends of mine, but I also accept that they have made a choice. I pray for them that sometime along their path they will experience Jesus and believe all the truths of scripture but in the mean time I’m just going to be friends with them but be honest about my faith.
How about transgender people? Statistics say that between 4-10 percent of people are homosexual, which is large numbers but a small percentage and certainly not the norm. Statistics say about .004 percent are transgender, which is an aberration of the normal. Both homosexuality and transgenderism are abnormal as in “not the norm.” Yet, today’s culture would have us believe that we should embrace all of this as normal.
Scripturally, I can’t do that. The Bible is clear on this issue as well (men shall not dress as women…), as is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) which classifies transgenderism as a body dysmorphic mental health issue. Now, people would argue that homosexuality was in the DSM as well but was removed in the 1970s. I agree, but would argue that it was removed for political reasons not mental health reasons.
I’m picking on these two hot-button issues on purpose. Non-believers have landed on the LGBTQ et al issue to attack the church. In fact, they have been so successful in selling the “Love is Love” message that the majority of Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and Orthodox Christians support gay marriage in direct conflict with biblical teaching thus becoming apostate churches! Only Historically Black Churches and Evangelicals are under 50 percent (40% and 28% respectively), according to Pew Research. (http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/views-about-same-sex-marriage/)
But here’s what I have to remember: I was once blinded by Satan, too. I did things and believed things that were in rebellion to God yet He stood by me, loving me back into His arms through grace and mercy. To use biblical terms, I drank unto drunkenness; I engaged in sexual immorality; I routinely used coarse language; I sinned in my anger; I did not love my brother; I did not consider others better than myself; I was full of pride; I judged people at every turn; I showed no mercy or grace; I lied; I stole; I cheated; I was disobedient; and I didn’t truly love Jesus – He was my Savior not my Lord.
What does this confession have to do with what I’m talking about? Well, to steal from Paul, of all the sinners I am the worst! I don’t do the things I want to do and I do the things I don’t want to do – I am a wretched man!
What right do I have NOT to love others when their sins are no worse than mine? Just because their sins offend me doesn’t make me better than them because my sins are just as scarlet red or bloodier than theirs! Jesus had a word for this: HYPOCRITE!
I’ll admit that the sins of homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, violent crime (murder, rape, assault, et al), pride/arrogance, and atheism bother me more than most the other sins. But that’s a character flaw in me! All sin should bother me but not for the reason you may think.
What should bother me is not that people are foolish and stupid when they embrace their sin. What should really bother me is that people are so broken and blinded by Satan that they don’t even know they are rebelling against God! That is heartbreaking! That is tragic! That is soul-crushing both figuratively and literally!
As Christians, it should break our hearts when we see people reveling in their sin. We should not feel anger or disgust, we should be like Jesus and feel compassion and empathy – and yes, love! And that, my friends, is the trick. I morally disagree with people, but I am so heartbroken for them that I can’t help but feel love for them in their condition. It’s even more heartbreaking because they reject this idea completely. It’s the same reason why Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
I look back at my own life and just shake my head at how stupid I was as a young man. I rebelled against God and thought I was having fun! I completely get why those who embrace their sin and reject God’s ways think like they do! But, they’re wrong just as I was wrong all those years ago! I imagine how much different my life would have been if I had embraced my faith in my late teens and early 20s instead of doing what I did and honestly, I grieve over not doing so. It’s one of those, “If I knew then what I know now” things.
As hard as it is sometimes, I have to remember this when I see all the immorality engulfing our society, especially when it is being embraced by people I know. They know not what they do!
The day is coming (if it’s not already here) when those of us who believe the Bible is God’s infallible Word will be in the minority. Our faith and beliefs will be under attack, which honestly should not surprise us. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world and that the world would hate us because of Him! And yet, God’s truths will stand; Jesus’ Church will stand; and we can continue to stand if we do as Jesus’ commands – love God and love others. And to do this, all we have to do is remember how God loved us enough to give us Jesus.