You tell me how in Christ love is everything.
How it transcends morality, truth and even scripture itself…
How if we just expressed your concept of love, the world will beat a path to Jesus…
Yet you recoil at basic truth, like the reality of sin and moral precepts.
And you reject much that God has revealed in His Word to help us understand His own nature and thus the parameters of authentic love – for the good not just of individuals, but whole societies.
Somehow, you have been deceived into thinking that authentic love is freedom from truth, when actually it is truth set free.
I might be impressed with your limited view of Christ and love if I saw evidence of the dynamic power of God at work among you.
You know, the kind of stuff Jesus calls us to in the New Testament: The lost actually being redeemed on a regular basis through repentance; freedom and forgiveness through Godly conviction and confession of sin; individual discipleship, wholeness and maturity; tangible love as our very homes are thrown open to the broken and destitute; demons made to flee; the sick healed, the lame walk and sight restored; chains of bondage and addiction shattered; reproducing healthy, sustainable fellowships; and the persistent advance of His Kingdom.
And I’m not talking metaphorically.
But I don’t see this when I look at your life.
Among those trapped by your post-modern views of Christ and love, I only see what the world itself knows to do – which is to express one’s “better self”.
The only difference is, when you do it, you go and call it God.
Sorry, I’m not impressed.
Yet among those I hang with – who understand that God’s authentic love is never at odds with His unchanging truth – I am seeing people literally and dramatically come to the Lord weekly.
I am seeing maturity emerge as lives are literally redeemed.
I am seeing the unflinching ministry of confession and forgiveness literally bring freedom.
I am seeing repentance literally lead to maturity and wholeness.
I am seeing brothers and sisters in Christ literally open their homes, their meals and their spare bedrooms to those who you only want to talk about and love abstractly.
I am seeing demons literally – and I mean literally – tremble and flee at the proclamation of God’s authority.
I am seeing the sick literally healed, the lame walk and sight literally restored by the laying on of hands.
I am seeing deliverance literally from sin and addictions.
I am seeing even brand new believers move forward in the authority of Christ and literally impact their communities, families and culture.
I am seeing dynamic, open and participatory fellowships literally emerge in places others fear to tread.
I am seeing darkness literally repelled and His Kingdom advance.
No, I’m not saying we’re perfect. Far from it! But on any day of the week I’ll put any ten of our folk against any ten of your folk and we’ll see where real love and real life – rather than some hollow sensibilities – are being reproduced.
An Authentic Jesus
And you know what else I am seeing on a regular basis?
Those who you say will reject God if we maintain moral clarity, are coming and routinely asking about the hope that is within us – and they are finding grace and redemption. Not just occasionally, but time and again.
For example, I have lost count of the number of people trapped in homosexuality or other disabling sin who have reached out to us – and to me personally – and who we have embraced and led to the Lord.
They seek us out because they instinctively know there is no hope in the prevailing postmodern sensibilities of this age. They instinctively know that their only real hope is in a real Jesus – who affirms their humanity through us while never minimizing the consequences of sin and the power of redemption.
I also know many who love enough to stand and minister outside abortion clinics while bearing the scorn of other believers who call that a “distraction” and a “reproach” on Christ – yet there are countless women who have come to Christ, and countless babies who have been saved from destruction – because of them.
Despite this, you are unable to acknowledge our love and our compassion because it does not conform to your own sensibilities – including your false stereotypes and arrogant hubris against other believers.
The Log in Your Own Eye
Instead, you call us intolerant, judgmental and hateful, in ways that are intolerant, judgmental and hateful.
Why? What have we done that is so worthy of your scorn? Simply this: We have the audacity to express Christ’s love in real lives and in real places that are too messy or controversial for your squeamish sensibilities to embrace – while also affirming His concurrent moral standards and, when needed, respectfully but firmly speaking truth to power in the public square.
Oh, I can see you cringe even now at the mere mention of “moral standards”. How intolerant and unloving, you think.
Really? Is Christ divided, such that His love is at odds with His truth? If so, I can assure you the problem lies with you – not us or Him.
So please, tell us, those of you who want to put your limited concept of Christ and love above the Lord Himself: How many people trapped in homosexuality in your own neighborhoods – how many living on the “other side” of town like the dealers, pimps, prostitutes and gender benders or how many heading to the abortion clinic down the street – have been attracted to and brought into actual freedom and redemption in Christ through your postmodern sensibilities?
Because I can assure you, we see and experience the power and attraction of the Cross – and the power and attraction of Christ and His authentic love and truth – daily in real, transformative ways.
Yes, my post-modern friends. You have your theories and your sensibilities.
But the folks I hang with have Christ and bear the fruit of transformed lives, communities and cultures – not because we are fundamentally better than you, but because we understand that the Jesus who we love and obey is never about our own sensibilities.
By submitting to the authentic Jesus as He has chosen to reveal Himself to be – both relationally and by the plenary authority of His written word – we find true fellowship and also exhibit the power of His uncontradicted love and truth to a waiting world.
Unlike you, we continually put aside our own sensibilities as we increasingly come to realize that God’s grace always involves both love and truth – and that it is a perversion of Christ to limit His grace to one without the other.
So where does the problem lie? With the Christ we know and proclaim, or some Christ whom you’ve limited to your own sensibilities and whom you want to define in terms of your own better self?
It is time for plain talk.
It is time for clarity.
It is time for some fruit inspection.
It is time to lay aside the Jesus of your own creation.
It is time to surrender to the real Jesus – the Lord of all who is over all, and who calls us to love and truth. Because the real Jesus never, ever presents those aspects of Himself as contradictory.
And if this stings, then understand it is not because I hate you. Rather, it is because I love you enough to tell you the truth.
And in that, there is hope.
~ Jim Wright