Thursday, June 23, 2011

If They Don't Recognize It As Love, It Isn't Love

For many years I have lived under the guideline that if someone doesn't recognize my actions as being borne of love, then it isn't love.  Someone actually told me once that he wasn't responsible if people didn't recognize that he was acting out of love.  I was shocked that a Christian, and one who preaches the Word of God, would make such a statement.  There is no way to mistake when something is done out of love or done without love.

The Bible, in 1Corinthians 13, teaches us that love is kind, patient, forbearing, forgiving, believes and hopes and endures many hurts; it does not envy, boast, behave rudely, seek its own, think evil, rejoice in iniquity and is not provoked.  Love does not fail!

Paul stated that even bestowing all our goods to feed the poor and even give our bodies to be burned to save someone, if we do not have love, we have nothing.

When we love someone, we want to see them happy, we want to make them happy; we want to see them prosper and have only good things in their lives.  We do not want to see them hurting in any way; we don't steal from them, we don't lie to them, we don't talk badly about them, we don't inhibit them attaining good things, we make certain they have food, water, clothing, shelter.  We try to give them anything and everything we can possibly can, above and beyond their needs.  We want them to have abundance. Just as God, in His love for us, wants to give us all the blessings of Heaven; He wants us to have more than we could ever dream or imagine: life, possessions to ease our lives, prosperity to make our lives better and to help others.

In this present age, love has waxed cold -- not only among the world, but among Christians.  We say we love everyone, but our actions prove otherwise, and then we try to justify it by calling it "tough love".  I have yet to find the concept of "tough love" in the Word of God.  We claim to love the sinner, but we work so hard to take away from them their right to choose the way they live their lives.  We complain so mightily about our government taking away our rights as Christians when the truth of the matter is, our government has not restricted our right to practice our faith; yes, they may have limited some areas where we can practice our faith, and we should, rightly, work to restore those available places, but we turn right around and try to force everyone to believe the way we believe and live according to our standard of Christianity.

I've heard several people who were not Christians state that they had no interest in becoming a Christian because they couldn't tell the difference between a Christian and an atheist when it came to the behavior of the two: atheists want to prevent Christians from saying God's name, from praying in public, etc.  But, Christians want to take away the rights of non-believers, just as passionately.  We want to "legislate morality".

We sincerely need to examine our hearts and repent for our sin of trying to force others to believe the way we believe.  And it is a sin to do that.  Christ never forced anyone to behave in the manner He taught His disciples to live.  He never once advocated changing the laws of the land to reflect His teachings.  He never once advocated changing the rule of the kingdom of Israel to mirror His teachings.  Personally, I do vote for men and women who are Christian, but I don't do so so they will go to Washington or the state capitol and enact legislation that will force those who are not Christians to live according to Biblical teaching.  Forcing people to behave according to Biblical teaching is not going to lead those people to Christ; the opposite is true: by forcing people to live according to our understanding of the Bible will drive them further away.

And, of course, we have a really huge problem when we do try to force Biblical standards on the masses: which denominations teachings of the Bible shall we enforce?  If we, as Christians, cannot even agree on the teachings as a group (we have more denominations teaching more ways to live Bible teachings than most men can conceive), how then are we going to require the lost to live according to Bible teachings?

We need to get back to loving one another, loving those who are not saved and stop trying to force anyone to live according to our beliefs.  As Jesus pointed out: how can we remove the speck from our brother's eye when we have a plank in our own?