December 1, 2006

Love doesn't necessarily feel good

The latest scandal in the Christian church in North America makes me ask the same question I did in previous years. When some prominent preacher or leader is exposed for long-term, and usually sexual sin, I wonder, Didn’t anyone love him enough to stop him?

For some reason, our idea of love has turned to mush. We do everything we can to make people feel good, to ensure their sense of being liked and approved. That isn’t what God does.

The love of God is so great that He came to earth as a man (imagine the assault to His senses) and died for every sin that every person ever committed. Nothing says love more than giving your life for another person, and He did that for me without me doing anything for Him. God’s love is unconditional, unearned, undeserved, and expects nothing in return. He loves me just as I am.

But the love of God is so great that He will not leave me just as I am. He knows that sin is destructive, even deadly. My sin harms me, those around me, and is an insult to His holiness. His great mission is to use everything that happens in my life for good, and His definition of good is not a ‘feel good’ mushy love. It is the good of becoming transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. The love of God is unconditional, but it does include an amazing make-over.

Compare that into the way people respond to a Christian leader who has a problem. Unless his co-workers are totally blind or incompetent, some of them must either know or suspect there is sin ruining his ministry and his witness. So what do they do? In one case, they covered for the man. That is not love.

The Apostle Paul had to deal with a sinning member of the church in Corinth. He wrote them a scalding letter that said they needed to turn this man over to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” They were not to associate with this man at all, but instead push him into divine chastening until he repented.

Apparently this particular man did repent. Paul later wrote another letter to Corinth regarding the incident, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.”

He loved them so much that he called them to account over this man’s sin and their attitude toward it. His actions, which some today would call harsh and insensitive, were an expression of love, and like the love of God, demanding change, a demand that is not mean or heartless, but with one hundred percent concern for their current and eternal well-being.

The people around the man who has been in the news lately might have thought, “But we are not supposed to judge . . .” and Jesus did say that, but He also told us to “Love one another, for by this the world will know that you are My disciples.”

Little wonder that the world thinks we are a bunch of ninnies.

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