Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Bethany Bullet-Tuesday, September 2, 2008

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil.”
Romans 12:9

You recall where Paul has taken us in the book of Romans. Now having proven his point that we, who are by nature sinful and utterly helpless, are in Christ fully and freely forgiven, Paul now calls us to imitate Christ. Remember – this is not to gain anything, but merely as a response to what we have been given.
The pairing of these two thoughts highlight the life and work of Christ.
We live in a world of insincere love and misguided hatred. Rather than love for loves sake we regularly relegate our love by what we can receive in return. From friendships based on what “toys” they have, to using the word love in hopes of gaining the others body, to families bonded by future inheritance – we are all familiar with insincerity of love.
Jesus however loved sincerely. His love was never based on what people could do for him! It wasn’t even first and foremost based on what He had to offer. His love was sincere and pure. He loved and loves us because we are his creation, sheep of his hand, people created in His image, the children of God. His love was sincere and he was ridiculed for it regularly. I’m sure you remember the accounts in the Gospels when the Pharisees and the Sadducees would say: “This man eats with sinners and tax collectors.” Recall the occasion when a woman of the night entered the house of such a Pharisee and started anointing Jesus’ feet with her tears and kissing them. The Pharisee thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet he would know better. He wouldn’t let her touch him. How dare he…love such.”
Yet, simultaneously Jesus hated evil. To such a woman he once said, “Daughter I know your sins, and they are many, selling your body for the pleasure of another is not what you were created for, your sin is forgiven, go and leave your life of sin.” He loved her for who she was, where she was at, but too much to leave her there.
We too with these words of Paul are called to love people where they are, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we will affirm what they are doing. Human nature leads us to believe that these two callings: sincere love and the hatred of evil are mutually exclusive. So we at times are fooled into thinking that love means never appearing to be intolerant nor judgmental so we avoid calling almost anything evil. On the other hand we at times do a great job of hating evil without the slightest care for those caught therein. We are good at demanding compliance while disregarding compassion.
The only way love can be love is if evil is hated, and the only way evil can be left behind is if our love is greater than our hate.
How important is this calling to the body of Christ? Consider this thought. Someone said that in his opinion more people have been brought into the kingdom through the sincere love of a fellow Christian than all the doctrinal arguments ever offered; conversely more people have been kept out of the kingdom through a lack of love from the body than a lack of any programs or parking, padded pews or powerful preaching.
May it be said and experienced among us, “see how they love one another.”


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