I am certain that mean, spiteful Christians exist (there’s the fringe group that insists “God hates fags”), but I think they are few and far between. The greater problem I see today is Christians allowing themselves to be marginalized because of a terrible fear of being identified with the “God hates fags” group. Christians are allowing their thinking to be clouded by the shrieks of the gay agenda-ites. We are afraid to be seen as unloving, when our real concern should be whether or not we are actually being unloving. The first case submits to a worldly view of life and allows the secularists’ ever-shifty definition of love to be the standard to which we conform. The latter recognizes that the true definition of love is found in Christ; His Word should be the only one we care about. If the outside world calls us unloving, we should first consider that it could be because they have no idea what love means.
And we’re not doing them any favors with our muddled messages. Many Christians I know are so concerned about being perceived as unloving that they are actually being unloving by intentionally NOT spreading the truth of an all-gracious, all-powerful God. Let’s look to Christ as an example of real love. Of course, we have the oft-quoted Golden Rule. We have Christ as a servant, as a sacrificial Lamb. We see Jesus refusing to condemn the prostitute, telling her to sin no more. Jesus offers Himself and complete, life satisfaction in Him to the woman at the well who is blatantly living in sexual sin. As Christians, we always have room for improvement in showing this type of love to fellow sinners. A pastor on the teaching team at our church (Steve Brown) often says that as Christians, we should view ourselves as beggars showing other beggars where we found bread. This humble attitude may or may not be recognized as such by those looking to have their sin validated by us, but our goal should be to imitate the gentle, loving attitude of Jesus toward individuals.
But we’re also to imitate Christ’s attitude toward the leaders of the day, those who push and press those under and around them deeper and deeper into destructive lifestyles. Jesus tenderly loves the sheep, especially the ones that run away (which is all of us, of course). But he attacks the wolves that are threatening His sheep. And this is loving, not hateful. If I were a police officer rescuing an underage girl from prostitution, I would not be sweet and tender to her pimp. I would not be concerned about Pimp’s feelings, and I would certainly not care if Pimp thought I was hateful or mean or didn’t want me to throw him in jail.
It’s the difference between how you ought to treat a cult leader who is brainwashing followers and taking child brides and how you ought to treat the brainwashed followers and child brides. There should be a difference in how we treat the leaders and the followers, and until recently, common sense would have made this sentence silly and unnecessary. But a sense of right seems to be no more common these days than making a call from a payphone.
Matthew 23 is an excellent example of how Jesus treats the leaders in His day. Jesus talks about teachers of the law and Pharisees and calls them out on their behavior. He describes them as posers, hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, blind guides, snakes, and vipers. He then says, “How will you avoid being condemned to hell?” And Paul (Ga.5:12) actually says he wishes false teachers would go all the way and “emasculate” themselves (ouch!). These are not “nice” words, and they would emphatically NOT be perceived as loving by the liberal elite of today (the same nut jobs that were able to straight facedly say that Truett Cathy’s comments about supporting a traditional family were hateful). On the other hand, we should take care to not use Jesus’ words as an excuse for us to spew venom. If you’re feeling angry and self-righteous, you should probably sit down and zip it.
But what we shouldn’t be concerned with is what the world thinks of us. The world misinterpreted the message of Christ so much that they crucified a man who had never even had a sinful thought. Should we then be surprised when the world misinterprets the love of speaking truth or – Obama forbid! – voting truth?
To sum it all up, if an individual doesn’t like me because I’ve been unkind and said insulting, personal things to him or her, shame on me. If society doesn’t like me because I make bold, “unloving” statements about the pimps who are interested in whoring out anyone who will turn them a profit, then shame on me if I stop because I want the pimps to like me.