Tag: Love (page 1 of 7)

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin… Except Ours

LoveIn the name of love, we are willing to do things that we never dreamed. For instance, I love my wife so much I willingly endure temperatures in our home that are on par with the outer boundaries of hell, because she is cold…even during summer. What can I say? I really love my wife.

Built for Love

At the end of the day, we are built for love. We are designed to give and receive love. Being that God is love and He desires to have us as His beloved; it follows that we are created to receive His love and extend it to others. Thankfully, many Christians understand this calling – extending and being His love. I’m hearing more and more people affirm that we are called to love others, and this is a good thing. What concerns me is what else can be said.

Love filled Hate

A common comment from people of the church is: “I hate the sin, but I love the sinner.” My response to this is always, “No you don’t.” Please understand, I recognize the good intention in this statement, because I use to say this very thing. What I understand now is that we error in believing that hate and love can coexist. “Hate the sin, but love the sinner” is found…nowhere in the Bible. This teaching isn’t in the Bible. While the bible definitely makes the case that God hates sin, it actually says evil (Ps 97:10), it more often points to hating our own sin, rather than sin in general, because it is our sin that keeps us from Him (Isa 59:2). And when we look at Jesus’ ministry, it was not part of His teachings. What Jesus did say was “Love God and love others.”

Your Plank

Again, He did mention “the speck” (or sin – Mt 7:3-5) in your brother’s eye. However, it was not for the purpose the church typically references. When we use that scripture to call out someone else’s sin, we disregard that Jesus first said deal with the plank in our own eye. In other words, that huge board! I mean, the guy was a carpenter, so I’m sure He was pretty solid on what a plank of wood looked like. His point was, deal with the huge sin in your own life, before considering the sin in your brother’s.

Their Speck

One of the key words in this passage of scripture is brother. After dealing with your own sin, Jesus was talking about dealing with the sin of other believers, not people outside of His followers. Sadly, we use this scripture to justify naming the sin of people who do not even believe they should be following Jesus. Then we wonder why they won’t come to our church. I’ve never seen anyone come to Jesus after a Christian said, “Jesus hates your sin, but He loves you, so follow Him.”

Hate Crushing Love

Here is the truth. You cannot truly love someone when you are focused on what you hate about them, and what they’re doing wrong. If we, as The Church, truly desire to love others as we love ourselves (Mk 12:31), we need to recognize that with God, hate never precedes love. It just cannot. Love cannot have anything to do with hate – except to crush it. Love stands alone and conquers hate. Remember you are built for love. This is the way of Jesus.

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Photo Credit: A Mormon Enigma

Which Cross are You Carrying? Suffering or Love?

Suffering

This is a follow-up to my post, Take Up Your Cross. In the previous post, I made the confession “I no longer believe taking up your cross is all about suffering. I find it has so much more to do with grace, humility, hope and love.” God has been churning that confession in my heart. As such, I believe it deserves expounding. 

As Christians, we are familiar with Luke 9:23 “If any of you want to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Most often, the most familiar teaching attached to this verse has to do with the suffering associated with following Jesus – and how we have to choose to partake in His suffering (i.e. taking up our cross.) We made suffering “the way” of Jesus. 

I would suggest there is a greater lesson to be understood. I am not discounting any sermons associated with this passage or the fact that we are called to join Jesus in His suffering. However, we, or at least I, have often missed the bigger picture of Jesus’ instructions for following Him.

Does Following Mean Suffering?

Every time Jesus talks about others hating us or suffering as His followers (Matthew 10:22Matthew 24:9John 15:19-22 and Acts 9:16) He tells us it will happen as a result of following Him. I believe the reigning choice, is not to suffer, but rather to follow Him, which will inevitably include suffering. Most specifically, I suggest we may have been focusing on an outcome, when in fact the focus is on being His follower. Suffering will come, but after the choice to follow.

He never gave us the choice to suffer, except in following Him. Nor does He command us to suffer. He doesn’t say, “Follow me by suffering”. He never commands suffering, but tells us, if you choose me you will be hated and suffer. He also assures trials and tribulation. He doesn’t say we can avoid it, or that we can choose when, where or what. He is clear suffering will come. So suffering isn’t the choice, but taking up our cross is. Remember “If”?

I’ve been praying and meditating on what the practical and visible choice of taking up our cross looks like. I’m convinced it’s love. Jesus said love God, love others, love each other, and make disciples. I’m confident that our choice to love others is the cross Jesus meant for us to take up. Here’s why. Like I mentioned in the previous post, Jesus made it a habit of turning what we thought we knew on its ear. He routinely changed how we interpreted following God. The cross is no exception. He took an instrument of pain, suffering, and death and turned it into a vehicle of love, forgiveness, and life. Since His crucifixion, the cross hasn’t been seen the same way. We even wear them on chains around our necks!

Love, Not Suffering

Jesus didn’t come for the sake of suffering. He came for the sake of love. What happened to Him while on earth as a man should never overshadow why He allowed it to happen to Him. It was because of His love for us. Telling us to take up our cross has little to do with suffering. Instead, He asks us to choose to turn from our selfishness, love others (that is taking up our cross) and follow Him. Loving those that are lovable is easy, but try loving those that aren’t. It feels a lot like cross bearing when we have to CHOOSE to love someone we don’t want to love, or feel is undeserving.

Our choice is not to suffer. Our choice is to love God and love others, which sometimes brings suffering. Suffering is not the way of His followers; love is the way of His followers. We choose daily to love God, and everyone else that we come in contact with, regardless of how we feel about them. And every day we choose which cross we will bear.

Are you carrying the cross of suffering? Or are you carrying the cross of love?

How Love Prepares Your Kids to Leave

Kids Leaving Home

used from www.theguardian.com

Three months before I graduated high school, I left my home. I was just 18. My departure was difficult. However, even with some tension and hurt between us, I left assuming my parents loved me. But I did not leave feeling loved.

I believe there are several reasons that I did not feel their love. We were struggling to integrate a blended family. We were a young Christian family just beginning to learn about love. During this time, there was little peace as my parents worked through these challenges. We were all learning to express intimate emotions and affection. Based on our relationship today, I am quite certain they loved me. In hindsight, I also understand why I left not feeling their love.

When Our Kids Leave

My wife and I recently changed some of our parenting techniques for the benefit of the two kids we still have in our home. I have always assumed that successful parenting resulted in your child graduating high school with a plan for the next four to six years; a good measure of self-confidence, self-esteem; and a desire to follow Jesus. My goal has been to help my boys enter manhood well, and help my daughter grow graciously into womanhood. Today, my wife and I agree that successful parenting will now look like this:

“When our children leave our home, they will leave feeling assured they were, and are, loved.”

I want my children to walk out the door with the confidence that we love them, no matter their mistakes, and beyond their successes. I want our children to feel the extent of our love so deeply, that they are able to identify genuine love, and know that it originates from God.

But the Greatest is Love

When a child feels loved, they will have assurance in so many other things. They will know that their parents believe in them. They will know that they can always come home. Feeling loved will build confidence and self-worth. When a child feels loved by their parents, especially their father, it makes it easier to believe that God loves them.

Feeling this love will drive a child toward loving others. It will encourage them to extend grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Feeling loved will build Christ-like character, and a heart to serve others that reflects His goodness.

This doesn’t mean that your house is a smaller version of Disneyland. It includes discipline and correction (Hebrews 12:6), as well as intentional teaching. Ensuring that your child feels loved begins with you extending the love that you feel, specifically from God. It involves time spent with them, both of quality and in quantity. It requires physical touch and moments of intimacy. If you’re not a “touchy feely” person and you have kids, learn to be now. They need it.

You Are Not Alone

For those of you who are single parents, or raising children that are not your own, the privilege of loving these children is now yours to enjoy. Even when circumstances are not God’s first choice, children still require this same measure of steadfast love and commitment. Children loved in any environment that encourages, hopes, and believes in them, have access to the same positive outcomes as those raised in the presence of their mom and dad. What you offer, single-handedly, by choice, is precious and enough with the sustaining love of the Savior.

And if you are one who did not experience this love as a child, you are still able to make love available to your children. This is where God’s good grace comes in. We can lean on His promise, through the Apostle Peter, where “love covers a multitude of sins.

For me, one of the most encouraging and challenging scriptures about parenting is Ephesians 6:4 (and I love the way the Amplified Translations says it):

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with loving-kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

May all of us entrusted with children, bring them up tenderly, with loving-kindness, so they will rest assured of our love for them. May we glorify God in our dedication to these children, and may our love point them to the one True Love.

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