Love

Let all that you do be done with love.

                                                               1 Corinthians 16:14
 

And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

                                                                Matthew 22:39

 

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.                                               

                                                               Romans 13: 9-10 

 

A couple of weeks ago I watched the Pentatonix Christmas special. They are an acclaimed a capella band whose music has brought me to tears. The majority of the songs they performed on their show were Christian, leading me to Google to see if they were considered a Christian band (no, they aren’t, though the beat boxer Kevin is a Christian). In one article I read, I went on to read the comments. The first comment I read exhorted Christians to stop sharing videos of the band singing Christian songs (their rendition of Mary, Did You Know? made its way into my Facebook feed numerous times during the Christmas season), and to essentially boycott concerts and buying albums, because two of the band members were openly gay, and that by not refusing to listen to them, we were contributing to the dilution of the Christian message in the world. The commenter went on to say that “false gospel of acceptance” has made its way into the church, and that scripture is being challenged on issues of sexual morality and other things, and churches are taking a looser stand on these issues.
 

I grappled with this concept for a good while, letting it roll around in my head as I went about my days, and running the gamut of stances. My initial reaction was that such a stance was quite stringent and legalistic, and that it’s the message and music of the songs that I am listening to and sharing, not anything about the band’s personal lives. “However,” I argued with myself, “perhaps that’s precisely what the enemy wants me to think, and I am actually contributing to the “false gospel of acceptance.” I did not want to join in the same line of thinking as the world, because its way of thinking is counter to God’s. I certainly didn’t want to contribute to the church being lukewarm and at risk of being vomited out of Christ’s mouth (the church at Laodicea referenced in Revelation 3: 14-18). Should I take a stronger stance and “vote” with my feet by not supporting the band in the sharing of their videos or the watching of their television schedule? Do I become like my co-worker friend who told her daughter that she was going to hell when her daughter shared with her that she (the daughter) was questioning her sexuality and thought that she might be gay? (to be clear, she may have said more to her daughter in motherly love than just that. I would hope so. It’s just that when my friend shared the “hell” comment with me, my initial thought was that it wasn’t her place to tell her daughter that.

 

Oh, this whole thing hurt my heart! I’d prayed about it immensely, wanting to explain myself to the One who knows me better than I know myself. I wanted Him to know that I wasn’t trying to be disobedient or question His word or anything. I asked that the Holy Spirit lead me in the way in which I should think.  

 

I was still troubled about this particular thing so I asked Kevin about it at our prayer meeting one night. He reminded me love has to be in everything that we do, and that it all boils down to the fact that everyone needs Jesus, and we need to do what we can to share Jesus with everyone. Amen?

 

I ruminated and prayed on what Kevin had said. I wondered how Jesus would have handled the situation my co-worker friend was in. I thought of the interactions He had with sinful people in the Bible—the Samaritan woman at the well, the adulteress, Zacchaeus. Jesus spoke to them in love. Jesus was in the best position of any human ever to judge and condemn each one, and yet He didn’t. He knew every single sin they had committed and would commit, and knew that He would pay the price at Calvary for those sins, and still He didn’t turn away from them. Instead, He met them with love and embraced them with tons of grace.

 

Who, then, are we to do any different? If Jesus, Divinity in human form walking among us, the second in the Godhead, the Lord of Lord and King of Kings to whom every knee will one day bow and of whom every tongue will confess that He is Lord—if He did not look askance at folks whom those in religious society (read: Pharisees) regarded as not measuring up to scriptural standards then—how is it that we feel He that we would be right to do it today? No, I declare. No. We are not to look down our noses at those who are sinners, for we would be looking down at ourselves. Instead, dear ones, we are to love the outcast, love the convict, love the one whose worldview or political thought process or lifestyle is different from ours. We are to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to all, for all need Jesus. All need love, and all need Jesus.

 

Prayer Requests

 

  • For us to be obedient in this new year to His call and His will for His church
  • For those who have labored through the loss of loved ones this Christmas holiday, and look to the new year to bring new hope, new opportunities, new love
  •  For the sufferers of child abuse who are lost within a system of bureaucracy and victimization
  •  For those who feel defined by their past, even though they have been forgiven and released from it
  •  For those subject to the whims and taunts of mental illness that robs them of their ability to be rational and open to receiving His grace and protection

 

Friends, please understand that this is written not to condone homosexuality or other sins listed in Scripture, but rather to emphasize that all that we do must be in love, or we risk alienating the very ones we have an opportunity to witness to. We can still acknowledge and call the sin a sin, but we must be very careful to not assume the position of judge. Extending love to the sinner does not exonerate the sin, which is alone God’s to do. Note that when Jesus commanded us to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” it wasn’t conditional. There were no footnotes or disclosures that said, “as long as they uphold the law and never sin or are of your same denominational outlook.”

 

Quotes

 

“Faith isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice to trust God even when the road ahead seems uncertain.”

 

“Fill your mind with God’s Word and you will have no room for Satan’s lies.”