How many of you, after reading today's title, have the Celine Dion song stuck in your head? I know. Me too. You're welcome.
Ugh, but now I can't get it out of my head, and I really need to focus on writing, because this post has been weighing heavy on my heart. For months. I've not been quite sure how to articulate it - mostly because I hate confrontation, and this could stir controversy, so I've been avoiding it. Lately, though, my prayer has been to know when God is speaking, and to be obedient when I hear Him, so...there's this whole conviction thing.
I hope, if you're reading this post right now, you know me. Like, really know me. And I hope, you can picture me sitting across the table from you, with my gigantic vanilla latte from Northstar Coffee (the best in Fargo, in my humble latte-connoisseur opinion), and you can imagine my voice, and insert the intentions of my heart, and see the weird faces I'm making as I speak because I want to make sure I'm being understood for exactly what I'm saying. Please, remember who it is who's writing this. It's me. It's Val. I am no scholar, I am no activist, I am no opinion pusher (except in the way of lattes). I just want to get to the truth, and protect others against believing falsities.
I tend to rile easily (surprise) and one thing that is sure to get me riled up within seconds, is hearing Christians be slammed because we're "not loving" or because we're "judging." I've heard, "I'm not a Christian, but what I do know about Christians, is they're supposed to love, and what they're doing isn't loving!" I hear it all. the. time. On TV. Online. In public. In writing. It's everywhere. Non-Christians have decided to proclaim authority over the definition, action, and acceptable display of love. And guess what, believers? We're falling entirely short of their standards. Anytime we express Biblical insight, we're not loving someone. So I get riled up. Their definition of love has somehow superseded the scriptural explanation, and because we are not all-encompasing-accepting, we are not loving. Because we have moral objections against ideas, practices, and choices others make, we are unloving. Because we not only disagree with them, but defend our beliefs, we are judgmental, unloving hypocrites who are intolerant bigots. Have I summed it up accurately enough?
Here's the thing. That is wrong, wrong, wrong. Off-base. Completely untrue. And we as believers are, as a result, walking a slippery slope in the name of trying to be known as "loving".
Seriously, I have a knot in my stomach typing this, but I have to keep going.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
Mark 12:29-31 "'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
Let me unpack these - quickly and concisely enough to make my case.
To love as a Christian is called to love, you must first love the Lord your God with all of you. Every ounce of your soul and being. Second, love your neighbor as yourself. Do you hold yourself accountable? Do you make choices between right and wrong? Do you care for your needs? Love others in the same way. When your child runs into the street, do you not run after them in full-out panic, to ensure their safety and protection? Would you not do everything in your power to keep them from harm, from wrong, from making unsound decisions? And why is that? Because you love them. If your child comes to you and says, "I'm going to play in the street." and you just smile, nod, and "accept" that from them, and let them play in the street, YOU WOULD BE INSANE! But in the world's eye, that is how we are supposed to love others. We can't disagree, we can't protect, and we can't argue. No matter how dangerous the choices they're making may be, they consider us unloving if we at all try to minister to their mind. To their heart.
No!! We minister out of love! We discipline our children to protect them and keep them safe. God forbid anything happen to anymore of my kids ever, but have no doubt I'm going to sacrifice life and limb to the ends of the earth and back again to protect my kids, because I love them! As I should do for the soul of any other person God put on this earth. I don't disagree or reject or take an opposing stand out of spite. It's not because I'm judgy. It's not because I'm holier-than-thou. It's not because I'm self-righteous. It's because God gave me a heart to love them and fight for their soul, and because I do not hold a world-view of love.
When someone does, says, acts, whatever it is - completely against your knowledge and heart as a Christian - do not turn a blind eye "for the sake of love". That is not loving. That is shameless negligence. They are right in saying we, as Christians, are called to love. They are not right in their perception of what that love is, or should look like.
Love people enough to stand up for what's right. Love your God enough to fight for His people. Love yourself enough to equip yourself with truth, and to stand firm in it. Do not forget what love is. Do not forget how to love. Do not forget the greatest command.
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