Rather, we are called to LOVE one another.
We also know that perfect love casts out all fear. You see, fear is the enemy of love. Fear begins with a label--we name someone, or even an entire group of people, "other."
These labels come with all sorts of misperceptions and stereotypes, and we boil down a beautiful, colorful, human being made in the image of God into a category: weird, different, strange, wrong, SINFUL...
And we get scared. Because we don't understand. And we don't know what to do. And we worry that they may hurt us or our children, or make it easier for other bad people to hurt our children, because they're different. Or strange. And because we are always trying to make sense out of our existence, we put them into the category of OTHER, and suddenly it's okay to not value them as a person loved by God. They become the enemy, which justifies our fear.
We hold up our idol of safety, and fear makes us not even want to touch anyone different than us with a 39.5 foot pole, let alone LOVE them.
The fact is, truly LOVING one another is dangerous. It will cost you, maybe everything. Just like it did Jesus.
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again." John 3:16-17, MSG
A son who would be threatened, plotted against, scorned, beaten...and finally hung on a cross.
All because of God's embarrassing, audacious, unconditional, unfathomable LOVE for the world and all the messed up,sinful people in it.
How different things would've turned out if God's top priority had been keeping His Son SAFE.
Please, take a moment and chew on that one, because it took everything in me not to scream it in all caps.
Safety is important, but we turn it into an idol when we make it more important than people. We bow down to Safety when we make it more important than
people or doing the hard, scary things God sometimes calls people to do. Obedience trumps safety every time. Just ask Ananias, Moses, Esther, or Jonah, to name a few.
So safety, yes. But don't hide behind it as an excuse not to love. As a reason to put down and hurl insults. As a justification to boycott and walk away, to not engage in difficult things. Love will cost you, and if it doesn't, you're not doing it right. Love in real life is messy, uncomfortable, and hard.
Safety, yes. But not at the expense of people. Not at the expense of loving well. Not at the expense of obedience.
John 13:35 says,
our love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
But love involves speaking the truth, though, right?
The thing about love is that it's hard to do on Facebook, where we do a lot of our living and preaching these days. It's hard to throw tangible love out into the internet whitespace. And truth--proclaimed at a deafening vibrato on the internet these days--though
when carelessly flung out into the world of pixels,
just not effective.
I don't know about you, but I can't think of a single person who's come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ as a result of a moral internet debate or a bible verse posted in a comment section drawing attention to their transgressions.
Because the only way to speak the truth in love involves a human.
A human person to look at in the face, eye to eye. A human with feelings, convictions, and experiences, just like you. A person who, even on their worst day, is so much more like you than different.
To speak the truth in love is a conversation, a relationship--not a status update. When the truth is haphazardly thrown out into the ether, it's often received like a heavy metal station. Just a bunch of loud, annoying noise. We've gotten in a bad habit of screaming from the rooftops what was meant to be communicated in a one-on-one or small group discipleship relationship. And it's just not working.
God doesn't need us to judge. That's His job.
God doesn't need us to convict. That's the Holy Spirit's job.
I think it's fair to say that He's plenty capable of doing His jobs without our help.
We tend to get our role confused, but the bible clearly says that the world will know we are His disciples by our LOVE for one another
The world will know we are different by our love. They're supposed to want what we have, and we're supposed to be ready with a reason for the hope that sets us apart. The hope that keeps us joyful amidst cultural chaos and gives us reason to remain faithful when it makes absolutely no sense.
They will know we are Christians by our love.
So, I have to ask... do they?
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