Based on actions, I find that love is the most hated concept in Scripture. Love is the most wanted yet least acted on focal point in Christianity. Often the worst perpetrators are those who scold the church for being judgmental and unloving. If we are honest with ourselves, there really is very few people who have this concept nailed down. Ironically, they most likely don’t read blogs and do much social media. Likely that’s correlation not causation. We despise love and the church would be radically different if we acted on love. Here is what I mean…
Love fights for the relationship
A friend once stated that many Christians lack the relational maturity to fight for the relationship. Personal preferences, demands for perfect justice, hurt feelings, etc drown out what the Bible instructs is love. When these occurrences arise, we blame the church for being unloving/judgmental when the person standing in the mirror is guilty. A HUGE part of love is the concept of reconciliation. In North America we can walk across the street to the next church, but biblically we often shouldn’t. Biblical love fights for the relationship.
Love is servant minded
The first offerings of the church were 100%. The Biblical patter of church giving was sacrifice and not 10%. People cringe when a discussion of money comes up and pastors often have to couch carefully the discussions on money. This is a lack of love issue. The flip side of the coin is how we invest our time. We are a very impatient and demanding society. Church leaders have to be cautious when asking people to invest time into ministry given busy schedules. When people say they are burned out, it’s often things outside of church life that is the cause. Often people will give money so as to not have to sacrifice their time. (Ask most churches about volunteering to clean.)
Love assumes the best
A significant portion of christian misunderstandings happens from people assuming the worst. The “yeah, but…” crowd is the worst offender. Their hair-trigger on being easily offended and church-correct language demonstrate this in spades. So does the last election. (Oops, a card game reference.) The social justice crowd in the church is quite guilty of this as well. In some extreme instances, people often have to prove why something is not wrong before they can teach how it is right. Bringing up the needs to act on social justice issues brings this to light. I bet many reading this are thinking: Who is T. Woznek addressing? Is he guilt tripping someone?
We need repentance
Repentance is the key. Those not guilty are the exceptions. If you find an exception, spend time with them to learn what it means to be loving. I find every church has a least a couple. Christians as a whole need to repent and realize we are not loving, as defined by Scripture. Seeing as this is the greatest commandment, a new commandment, and the most excellent way, perhaps we should be much more focused on dealing with this area of repentance.
We need sanctuary
Church is to be a safe place where people can be wrong and broken so healing may result. Often we do not what to go through the pain of making that happen. This would mean fighting for relationships, being a servant, and assuming the best in people. It means choosing forgiveness over justice, submission over arrogance, being a listener over being right. On the other side of the pain is healing and worship, because there we so how profound the Gospel is. Jesus already modeled this for us.
We need a mirror
We hate love. Some reading this will think amen and be thinking of names. Others will say this is laying on the guilt trip. A group has a whole list of “yeah, but…” while another will try and read between the lines. Theologically right of center will say Im going liberal, left of center may ask the the same. The guilty will trying to reason their way out of guilt. The offended will scoff and roll their eyes. Love takes work, it takes choosing to value people first. It means there is a lot of bridges that need to be rebuilt. It is inconvenient.
The bottom line:
Look in the mirror and read what Paul wrote about love in First Corinthians Thirteen. Jesus and the Holy Spirit invested a ton of time teaching on love because we really don’t want to be loving. We need to be. We really do want to be loving. We really what our churches to be a place of sanctuary. If it really is about Jesus, we must master this area of repentance. Jesus already died for this, demonstrated it, and gave us a road map. So, look in the mirror, repent, and why not make love the most cherished concept instead of the most hated. That would be a radical.
P.S. Ok. Who or what am I thinking about? What is between the lines? You, because in biblical love there is no catch. I think our actions speak differently than our words in how we value this concept. So, let’s repent together and be better, because change is possible.