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 we have embraced real love in action – rather than hollow sensibilities – and real life is 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
- Postmodern Idolatry (crossroadjunction.com)
- Breaking Out (crossroadjunction.com)
Well said. True love does not leave us in bondage — it sets us free. So glad that you are seeing regular demonstrations of the love of God. That’s much more important than any criticism you may receive.
Thanks, Steve. I really don’t mind any criticism. Rather, it is how this whole mentality is holding back so many Christians – and thus harming the Body of Christ – that troubles me.
Good word. What I have found over the years is the people claim that ‘God’ loves unconditionally, don’t really know that much about the love of Yahweh. Others are just trying to cover up their lack of love by projecting onto others their own heart problems. The scripture does not teach that Yahweh loves unconditionally; but it does teach that Yahweh is Love! Everybody that is honestly dealing in truth with their own heart knows that man does not love unconditionally and to be honest we haven’t even begun to plummet the depths of Yahweh’s love for His sons. I have learned the value of loving what He loves and hating what He hates.
“God’s authentic love is never at odds with His unchanging truth.” As our Father has granted me ministry in the lives of others by the power of Jesus’ Truth-and-Grace, it has transformed my own life, changing me in ways I would never have known (or dared) to ask for. A fellowship of believers that can welcome such change for the sake of the expression of the Truth and Grace of the whole Gospel is a place of transformation, but also sanctuary, sanity and safety for weary, disillusioned, hurting, hurt-others souls, lost and loveless and lifeless in this mess of a world. God’s real Love is so very surprising, a Rock, an Amen, the one thing that when you lean against It, it doesn’t shift or disappear.
Whether it’s dispelling demons and planting hope near an abortion clinic, or on a crisis line helping a girl distinguish between her own pain and the pain she’s about to inflict in ending the life of her child, or assisting a young mom with a life that’s falling apart because it’s based on ‘faith’ in a fraud of a lover, or taking time to keep saying to others ‘He IS the God of the impossible; let’s test His impossible goodness today,’ it’s always the same: the person needing the help is not the one who gives you the most objection. It’s the “friendly fire” — aren’t you ‘wasting your time and resources?’ and ‘people like you give Christians a bad name,’ ‘etc., etc. — that distracts, that takes time and mental/spiritual energy to deal with, that troubles the water you’d gladly baptize a new convert to the Christ life in. To love audaciously enough in places that are not socially acceptable, approved by the politics of others, or — let’s face it — safe, is not what most of the Christian church seeks. But you know what I find that personally and specifically validates my calling to what I do? Like Eric Lidell, that old-time Olympic runner in “Chariots of Fire” testified regarding his running (and then went on to finish running his race as a missionary in China), when I am doing the work God has for me to do, declaring His truth-and-grace, inviting a person into the joy of repentance and forgiveness from sin and sins, mapping out hope in God for a hopeless person, I feel His love course through me, making me able to keep on, energizing a body and mind that often feels like it can’t go on. I don’t much need approval from the outside when that is the effect of doing what He is calling me to do.
Lidell is supposed to have said: “When I run, I feel His good pleasure.” What a thing to experience, to run life’s race in such a way (even if you hobble as I do) that that is what we feel.
Moved to tears and humbled…
Words used to accuse and slander with adversarial opposition?
YOU recoil, YOU reject, YOU deceived, YOUR limited, YOUR sensibilities, YOUR false, AGAINST others, YOU think, YOUR scorn, YOUR creation, YOU limited, YOUR sensibilities, YOU want, YOUR self, YOUR sensibilities, problem with YOU, YOUR postmodern sensibilities, THEIR post-modern, YOU unable, hollow sensibilities, YOU do, YOU go,
I PUT any ten of OUR FOLK AGAINST any ten of YOUR FOLK, ME, I, I, I, I, I, ME, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I
I know, Kat. Bearing personal witness in the first person singular really must have offended those sensibilities, huh? 😉
We can read those same words in Isiah 14, just in case we need to read them again, and are not able be online.
I feel so overwhelmed by this timely voice from The Father’s heart…my eyes are filled wth tears..ask not why.i know beyond doubt,ts not you saying this but The Lord.i can’t thank you enough,brother..may this voice cross every geographical,racial,cultural,theological,social boundary and reach millions! In the name of Him who is Truth & Grace,Jesus Christ..
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Hmmm… ok, so I just stumbled on this post, and I’m really not too certain what to say or how to feel. On the one hand, I do understand what you’re saying. However, on the other hand, I too have witnessed a great deal of people come to Christ – NOT because of people saying homosexuality is wrong, or abortion is wrong, or any other such thing. They come to Christ because Christ IS love. God IS grace. And we? We are sinners.
I’m not going to toss in my opinion on such topics as homosexuality and abortion, because quite frankly, that is not my decision to make. God will judge as he sees fit. I am not one to tell anyone these things are right or wrong. I am here to show people the truth about God in terms of His love and redemption. Nothing more, nothing less.
Anyone who does go forth and say homosexuality is wrong, and that homosexuals are sinners and need to find their way to God – these people ARE judgmental. And we are not called on to be judges. Anyone who pickets in front of abortion clinics, saying these young mothers are murderers and need to find Christ – these people ARE judgmental. Those who simply go to these mothers, or these homosexuals, or single mothers who had sex out of wedlock, or whatever other case it might be that you may judge as wrong – those who go to these people and simply speak of God’s love… THESE are disciples of Christ. THESE are people doing God’s work. THESE are people bring others to the Lord.
Wow. I don’t advocate “in your face” ministry. I’m not sure how you got that from my blog.
Those who reach out to single moms at abortion clinics are not – from my experience – calling anyone murderers. They are offering hope and love to those women, and doing the hard work of supporting them and helping them.
Likewise with homosexuality. We are not proclaiming hate, but connecting through our common humanity with those who are struggling with their sexuality – and then lovingly ministering healing and wholeness as appropriate. But we accept them, regardless, as men and women also created in God’s likeness and image.
I’m sorry you took it so wrong. Really, that’s not what we are about.
I’m not necessarily saying that’s what I got that from your post… it’s simply my experience with those who are ministering to these people/at these places. It sounds almost as if you’re singling out homosexuals, abortion clinics, etc – and my experience has been that those who single out these places/people are very judgmental, and feel these people need Jesus… where in reality, many have already “found” Jesus. Many are much more spiritual than the “common” Christian. But because they are sinning in the eyes of others, others don’t see this.
That’s why I did have a hard time figuring out exactly what to say… you, personally, don’t strike me as one who proclaims hate, but the message you convey sounds similar to those who carry their ‘ministering’ just a little too far… if that makes any sense? Basically, I wasn’t trying to attack your post or you… but rather was explaining what I feel the message should be. Again, I’m not sure I’m making sense….
Thanks. Just to let you know, no one is singling out anyone. Some feel called to reach out to folks in one setting, others in other settings, some in no settings! My only point is that there is amazing power when we minister love, but also in that context bring truth. That means doing it with compassion and also trusting the Lord’s timing. In the meantime, we just accept and are willing to be there for whomever and whenever.
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Grace preached without truth is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is indeed a false gospel.
John 1:17 KJV
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST MUST ALWAYS BE GIVEN IN TRUTH, FAITH AND BELIEF!
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I love this post and well said!
Strong stuff Jim. I always found it strange that just because I may disagree with someone it means I don’t love them. Like you said we are accused of being intolerant, but it is OK for them to be intolerant of us. Love and “moral standards” are not in conflict, but they go hand in hand.
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