Natureboy

What is Christian love?

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People are condemned to hell already. It is time to get up and fight. It is time to open our mouths. We have to warn them that without Christ’s covering over their sins, they will undoubtedly go to an eternal hell.

 

Is there really anyone in America who *doesn't* know that most Christians believe you will go to hell if you're not a believer in Jesus? The whole idea of it being incredibly necessary to warn people about hell honestly boggles my mind a bit, because even though I grew up in a non-religious household, I can't remember a time in my life when I *wasn't* acutely aware that Christians believed that people like me and my family were going to burn for all eternity. It didn't exactly win me over -- I carried a lot of bitterness towards Christianity for many years.

 

What made me lose that attitude were Christians who behaved exactly the way this article criticizes. People for whom Christ was a motivation for extreme peace, goodness, forgiveness, and charity, rather than a motivation for extreme distaste for the way my atheist and queer friends and family were harmlessly living their lives. Although I've never come close to converting, I have chosen to learn more about Christianity since meeting the 'spineless' type of Christians, and I have a great deal of respect for the people who chose to live by that version of the faith. That's a lot farther than the 'hellfire' types have ever gotten in my heart.

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That is an amazing article, thanks for the link.  The move to redefine Christianity as something like "Love and ACCEPT everyone regardless" has nothing to do with Christ.

 

People forget that Jesus said He did not come to bring peace on Earth...

 

Luke 12: 49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.â€

 

This speaks about families being divided into believers and unbelievers, and elsewhere, it teaches that we should be separate from them.  If we are instructed not to water down our beliefs because it might offend and divide out family members, clearly we do not need to become the proverbial Christian doormat for everyone else.

 

The 'accept and tolerate everyone Christians' do become spineless and powerless and lack God's full deliverance in their lives. Ironically, this powerlessness is what makes some observers dismiss Christianity, so it really doesn't help no matter how you look at it.  Christ doesn't want 'lukewarm' followers, ones who follow just enough to think they can take the name 'Christian', but don't want to judge anything around them as wrong. He would rather people be cold or hot.  Why?  Those who are cold (not Christians yet) still have the opportunity to learn about Christ.  But lukewarm ones think they are right and usually won't hear anything more, they just stay in their muddle.

 

Being a true Christian isn't being arrogant or unloving.  True Christians have humility, and real love and compassion for every soul, they love the sinner and hate the sin.  But they believe and obey the instruction not to accept unrepentant, repeated sin in someone that calls themselves a brother/sister in Christ.  

 

As for evangelizing, there is no need to thump the Bible in everyone's face, we don't need to try to evangelize everyone we meet or work with or go around threatening hell - those who want to know more about Christ will see it and seek it and ask.    (But there is no need to take offense when a Christian writing to Christians speaks of things like hell; we write of it because we believe in it, not to threaten.)

 

[And while elsewhere I would generally not go into such scriptural detail, this is the Religious Topics forum.  I don't write these things because of any hatred or a desire to condemn anyone.  I write them because I want to share what I have learned and believe and encourage others.]

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(But there is no need to take offense when a Christian writing to Christians speaks of things like hell; we write of it because we believe in it, not to threaten.)

 

I wasn't offended; just discussing what the most effective marketing strategy is, as it were. From my reading, it seemed like the author was discussing two different interpretations of Christian love. She seemed to advocate for the 'hellfire'-y (for lack of a better word, hehe) type of Christian love, seeming to think that the 'spineless' (again, for lack of a better word...) type of love isn't very effective at winning over hearts and minds. I only meant to point out that in my experience, the opposite is true. 

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The problem I see in churches today is that they usually fall in one of two extremes. First, is the "nice guy Jesus" kind this article talks about that basically conforms the Gospel in the name of society's definition of "tolerance." They downplay the seriousness of sin because they don't want to offend anyone. On the opposite end, we have what I call the "Triple H" churches. Every word that comes out of their mouths seem to be "hell," "heathen," or "harlot." Often times, you may not be able to tell the difference between these churches and the Westbaro Baptist "Church." The former is usually a knee-jerk reaction to the latter and I believe both equally pervert the Gospel.

 

The thing that surprises a lot of people is that Jesus wasn't always gentle or "nice." We always hear about Jesus preaching compassion and forgiveness. Don't get me wrong, those are important things and they were the very reasons Jesus came to earth. However, that's just one side of Jesus. We never hear about the Jesus who defended the sanctity of God's temple by driving out the merchants with a whip and turning over tables as recorded in John's Gospel. That doesn't sound very nice to me and it shouldn't always be so.

 

At the same time, the problem with these "hellfire and brimstone" types is not what they say, it's how they say it. Yes, we believe hell is real but that's not the point. The point is Jesus and His mercy for us all that we could reconcile with the Father. His message could be summed up in what He called the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36:40. We are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul. Secondly we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Now once again, love sometimes requires us to be tough and firm, but in the end it's all about wanting the best for one another.

 

Jesus was never about tolerance in the worldly sense. Tolerance is NOT the same as love. Love is sometimes about being tough just as much as it is about being compassionate and nurturing. If I had children, I will support them, provide for them and discipline them because I love them. But I will NOT tolerate their disrespect, immaturity or rebelliousness just to avoid offending them. Letting them do whatever they want is not love because it shows I don't care about their well being. In the same way, Jesus loves us so much that He gave His life for our salvation. But He does NOT tolerate sin. If He did, then He died for nothing.

 

Is there really anyone in America who *doesn't* know that most Christians believe you will go to hell if you're not a believer in Jesus? The whole idea of it being incredibly necessary to warn people about hell honestly boggles my mind a bit, because even though I grew up in a non-religious household, I can't remember a time in my life when I *wasn't* acutely aware that Christians believed that people like me and my family were going to burn for all eternity. It didn't exactly win me over -- I carried a lot of bitterness towards Christianity for many years.

 

What made me lose that attitude were Christians who behaved exactly the way this article criticizes. People for whom Christ was a motivation for extreme peace, goodness, forgiveness, and charity, rather than a motivation for extreme distaste for the way my atheist and queer friends and family were harmlessly living their lives. Although I've never come close to converting, I have chosen to learn more about Christianity since meeting the 'spineless' type of Christians, and I have a great deal of respect for the people who chose to live by that version of the faith. That's a lot farther than the 'hellfire' types have ever gotten in my heart.

 

I'm so sorry if you or any of your friends were bullied or ostracized in any way. That is simply abusive and unChristian.

 

I want to share with you something to give insight which you can take or leave. Please understand that I'm not trying to be preachy:

 

"but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” â€œNo one, sir,” she said. â€œThen neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  -John 8:1-11

 

 

One thing I think is disgraceful is how gays are being treated in many churches today. The way they are treated is figuratively like the woman was treated in the passage above. They treat homosexuality as if it's some ultimate, unforgivable sin that is worse than other sins. To be sure, I do believe homosexuality is a sin and I make no apologies for that. You may strongly disagree and that's fine, I respect that. But anyone who persecutes another human being is not a Christian, but a self-righteous hypocrite. I acknowledged that I am a sinner just like everyone else and I need forgiveness. There is no excuse to treat gays or anyone else like that. We may not agree with how a person's lives their life but we should always love them. If a gay person, or anyone really, was being stoned either literally or figuratively then a true Christian should do what Christ did: stand up for them.

 

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." -John 15:13

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Love is something that I want to understand more.  When I think of Christian love the following verse comes to mind.  "This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."  1 John 3:16 (The other great John 3:16 verse!)  Self-sacrifice is at the heart of Christian love. 

 

I believe that if we were truly committed to this kind of love then many of the problems we have discussed here would fade away.  We would be challenged to speak difficult words, even if others mocked us for it.  However at the same time, we would give ourselves for those who were doing the mocking.  We wouldn't be so concerned with winning arguments or making our point but rather we would pour out lives to bring goodness to other people. 

 

God, break through the selfishness in my own heart.  Help me to lay down my life for you and for others.  May my life be marked by that kind of love. 

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