So I had this thought while driving to work this morning, “love is more complicated than you think.” On the one hand, it’s really simple, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Simple yes, the problem is though love gets a seriously bad wrap in the 21st century so the idea of loving your neighbour can be often misunderstood to mean a few things:
- Love is often misunderstood to mean that you should just lay down and die. Love does not mean that you’re a welcome matt for everyone to walk over. Love means service and sacrifice, but it doesn’t need to mean abused slave (persecution is an exception). I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen Christians roll over and die for the sake of “loving your enemy or neighbour” (Mark 12:30-31). All I’m saying is this, Christian, be careful you’re not using love as an excuse to justice a passivism of idolatry. Be careful you’re not using love as a way to get out of confrontation because you’re afraid of what people might think of you or do to you. God uses the weak, yes (1 Corinthians 1:7). But sometimes He needs fearless warriors as well (Ephesians 6:13-18). This sorta leads into my next point.
- Perhaps it’s my sinful self but nothing frustrates me more than Christians allowing someone to do something in the name of love but at the expense of justice. Alright guys, let’s get real here. God hates injustice and iniquity (Psalm 5:5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Isaiah 59; Luke 12:45-46). He hates the oppression of the poor, the widowed and marginalised of the world (Psalms 68:5; 1 Timothy 5; James 1:27). Time and time again I see Christians use loving people as an excuse to not boldly call out when there’s something wrong happening in our communities because there’s a belief that being a meek and mild passive Christian seems to be more loving then stopping someone from doing something bad. Oh and that reminds me.
- Stop using love as an excuse for sin. This is the real fundamental issue. Time and time again Christians use love as an excuse to let people off the hook for their sin. “Don’t judge” they say, or “just love them, dude.” Let me be absolutely clear there is nothing more unloving, more ungodly, more unchristlike then allowing a person or persons, in the name of love, to perpetuate sin, injustice and chaos in a world where God wants to make all things new and free from these very things (Proverbs 17:15; Matthew 18:15-17).
All this tends to fly in the face of the modern concept of love. Allowing people to do what they want, acceptance and endorsement. This couldn’t be more unbiblical and, dare I say, abhorrent to the God of the Bible.
So then, what is love? This is where it becomes a touch more complicated because the Bible only gives us hints and clues but really leaves the practice up to wisdom and discernment. Love is servanthood and sacrifice (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10), it’s patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), humble but also fierce, it’s human flourishing at its finest (Genesis 1-2). Love is the main game but it’s the sort of love we find in Jesus’ whole life and ministry. Jesus was, by today’s standards fairly judgemental, corrective of sin, stood out against the oppressed and marginalised, but loved the world so much that He died for it (John 3:16). He was the ultimate servant of humanity (Philippians 2). We need a complete and holistic perspective on Jesus’ character if we are to imitate Him.