People get caught up with the word ‘love’. I hear it tossed around quite liberally at one website I have participated at recently and when I hear the unbeliever and the deconverted using that term I find that how they define the word is vastly different from how God has defined it. For the unbeliever and deconverted it usually means that they are the recipients of some good feeling bestowed upon them by the other person. They want to be accepted, supported tolerated, etc., for their beliefs, unbeliefs alternative behavior and so on.
Rarely do I see them apply that definition to themselves and their behavior towards others, especially those who disagree with their point of view. The unbeliever and deconverted thinks that ‘love’ is a one way street towards them only and that God, the Bible, the Church and the Christian must change in order to show ‘real love’. They refuse to accept that they are in error or see that sin and evil influence their lives and ideas and will quote passage after passage that refers to ‘love’ and then accuse the believer of failing to meet that biblical standard.
Like the group of students who had T-shirts made with a passage from the Gospel of John
Love one another as I have loved you.” (13:34)
To the believer it is obvious that those people have no real conception of what ‘love is’ but the unbeliever and deconverted refuse to hear the truth about the definition of the word love. But let’s look again at how Jesus loved us. I am going to use the Sermon of the Mount found in Matthew as the source of evidence of his love for us. I will not use every verse for that would take far too long to deal with here but will select as many as I can to illustrate the love Jesus showed everyone:
#1. Jesus Taught
What did he teach? We see in the beatitudes, verses 3-11, Jesus giving us the correct behavior to hold to and develop in our lives. To quote a few of those, we are to be gentle people who thirst after righteousness. Going for alternatives, seeking to keep practicing sin does not meet those requirements. We are to be merciful, pure in heart and peacemakers and endure persecution and insults but at no time did Jesus teach that we are to accept and support sin.
#2. Jesus taught us to be the light unto the dark world
In Mt. 5: 13-14 we are told we are to be salt not bland followers of those who do not want the truth. We are to be different, the light so all people can see the correct path to take. We are not to compromise what we believe or what God taught us in the Bible but proclaim its words so everyone knows the truth. We do not look for ways to change what God said to meet our sensibilities or desires but to adhere to those instructions even when it goes against accepted secular thinking.
#3. Jesus did not overturn one thing God taught in the OT
Verse 17 of Matthew tells us that Jesus agreed with his father in heaven which means that he agreed with homosexuality being an abomination, tattoos are not good, and he agreed with Moses, among other things. He did not remove restrictions as people still made their required sacrifices while he was alive.
#4. Jesus taught that hell was real
We see in verse 22 that he warned us about hell and that our behavior can put us in danger of being sent there.
#5. He warned us about sin
and how bad it was. He taught us to be moral according to God’s standard not the subjective world’s view of morality
#6. He limited divorce
Jesus loved us so much that he taught us to preserve our marriages (v.31-32). That divorce was okay ONLY after adultery had been committed. Unlike the world’s permissive excuses for ending a marriage, Jesus kept it simple, strict and made sure we thought about our actions and decisions before committing and making as vow we could not keep.
#7. He loved us so much that he taught us to keep our word.
For those who have deconverted, they have broken their word to God and left him. (vs. 33ff) We have to be careful on how we speak to others and what promises we make to them
#8. He taught us how to give and pray (Mt. 6)
Jesus did not want his followers to be hypocritical so he gave us the right way to act and pray.
#9. He gave us a choice
Matthew 6:24 tells us that there are only 2 masters that can be served and you cannot do both. You have to make a choice- God and his righteousness or evil and its sinful ways. There is no changing of scripture to fit one’s desires, no altering God’s definition of sin, no compromising with the other master.
#10. He told us what to do
The verse is important and it is best to just quote it whole:
Notice the word ‘His Kingdom’ it i snot ours, we do not have authority to change God’s rules in order to let unworthy people into his realm. The rules of God stand and all people must meet them if they want to be part of his kingdom. Then notice the words ‘ His righteousness’. It is not our idea or interpretation of them but what God really says is righteous and we find that list in the bible. We do not let secular culture influence that list but influence secular culture by our obedience to God.
#11. He told us that we are not perfect thus we need to be careful how we treat others (Mt. 7)
The first few verses of Mt. 7 tells us that we are not in a position to pass judgment upon our fellow humans but not passing judgment does not mean we are restricted from telling others that they are erring and in sin, disciplining them or describing their alternatives as false teaching. Those activities are not judging a person but taking care of business.
#12. He told us that there is a right and wrong way to live
Again this is an important passage:
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
He loved us so much that he warned us about sin and how it will ruin us if we continue to pursue it. He also told us that ‘few will find’ the narrow gate which means that while many call themselves Christians, they are not for they pursue the sins of the world and reject God and his ways.
#13. He told us of true and false teaching
Jesus loved us so much that he told us about how not everyone will speak the truth and that we must be on guard for such people and do not give them a hearing. Even those who are popular may be false teachers and far from God. This means we are not to be shallow in our discernment but go beyond the surface and make sure the other person is truly a believer. In other words, we do not blindly accept a person simply because they claim to be Christian.
#14. He told us how to build our faith
Matthew 7:24 (to the end of the chapter), tells us that there is a right and wrong way to grow in one’s christian faith. The right way is to believe God, the bible and Jesus then follow the HS to the truth and obey their instructions. The wrong way is to disbelieve portions of God’s word, use interpretation and put one’s own spin on God’s words, ignore the truth and seek to alter the texts in order to import one’s personal desires into the Bible or church.
Obedience to God’s teaching in the Bible is important if one wants to see heaven. Altering God’s text or re-interpreting it to allow sin or sinful acts into the church is not smart nor of God. it is also not showing any love to God. And this is important for what love towards God are those students showing the Trinity by their words and actions?
They seek to treat sinful, unrepentant people better than the most holy God who gave them existence and that is not love. The altering of God’s word to accept sin and sinful activities is not love either. There are many examples that come to mind that support that point and I am sure you know them as well. They are very popular these days.
But this is the way it is with those who do not believe or misunderstand what real love is. They want it only their way so they feel good or benefit and forget that they claim to love God. Their words and actions tell a different story and undermine their claims. Real love is sacrifice and as John 15:13 tells us:
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
This verse applies to our love for God as well. We are to love God so much that we will sacrifice our lives for him. I wonder how many people who have deconverted had this much love for God? God tells us to love not the world nor the things in the world yet I wonder how many believers practiced or practice this command? Real love is more than a one-way street where a person gets to hold on to those things which are sinful and wrong and feel good about doing so.
How did Jesus love us? He loved us more than the things found in this world, he died for us, he taught us what was right and wrong, moral and immoral, sin and righteousness, he fed us, healed us, did not over-rule God or his instructions, did not alter scripture to import his selfish ways into the church and most importantly he did not accept sin or support it.
When people like those students, the unbeliever, the deconverted or alternative believer talk about love, it is not this kind of love they are referring to.