“You will watch a generation of Christians – OF CHRISTIANS – set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible.” said Beth Moore this month at the Passion Conference in Atlanta. Examples abound.
Many people will go to bed hungry and cold tonight. Should as much be done to help them as possible? Of course! Paul writes to believers living in Thessalonica, a city in today’s Greece, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” The truth of Paul’s words is not that those in need should not be helped, but rather that if they can help themselves they should. Their sense of self-esteem will be augmented rather than eroded. In a world of limited resources those who can not help themselves will have more help available. Finding a job or learning a skill in order to get a job or earn a better job is similar to teaching a man to fish for a lifetime instead of feeding him for a day. Truth is focused by love, not erased.
Men and women desiring to live a polyamorous lifestyle or a life of fornication have few legal restrictions. Polygamists have few legal rights, but each of these groups push hard today for acceptance. The charges of bigotry and hatred are leveled at those who choose to decline. If they own a business they may find signs outside the next day with the words “choose love not hate”. Jesus often is quoted telling the woman caught in the act of adultery, “neither do I condemn you”. The implication is that Christians should be loving and accepting not judgmental toward those whose sexual lives are different than your own. The truth is, Jesus gave the woman mercy, not a free pass. In the next sentence Jesus told her to “Go now and leave your life of sin.” It is interesting that tolerance is often meted out unequally. Sexual sins are met with far more tolerance by the masses than financial sins, especially those on Wall Street.
The foundation for many “truths” proclaimed today is that who I am is what I do. If you condemn what I do, you condemn who I am. In other words, you are hateful rather than loving. While that may be an accurate perception, it is an inaccurate fact. Though related, they are not the same.
Timothy J. Keller said, “Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.”
Informing a musician or athlete they are not very good in a loving tone and manner is an encouragement to work harder, change their routine or realize this is not something they are gifted in. Change to something they are gifted in will enhance their life not destroy it. It is not just what is done, but how it is accomplished that counts. The more disciplined they are the more freedom they have. The key is to find the right constraints, the liberating restrictions, needed to succeed and win.
Experience teaches the truth that deep loving relationships require the loss of independence. It must be mutually constraining to be mutually satisfying.
“Christians believe that they have the absolute truth that everyone else has to believe – or else,” said Keith, a young artist living in Brooklyn. “That attitude endangers everyone’s freedom.”
In reality, Christians believe they have absolute truth revealed by the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God who sent His only unique Son to earth to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He came that we could have life to the full despite the storms we live in. That life does have liberating restrictions.
Everyone is free to choose what they believe and how they will live. Christians are on a mission to share the truth and perfect love they have found. Their explanations and implementation of that loving truth are often flawed. Note the flaw lies with them, not the truth and love they are imperfectly strive for.
Those who hear can believe their message or else go a different path they believe is better, but which Christians believe will lead to pain. If you love someone and have a solution to the problems they face, it would be unloving not to tell them what you believe will help them leave the choice of action up to them. No threat, just love. Loving Truth and loving others necessarily go together.