Paul Couglin: What do you want the readers to know about you, especially in relation to your book?
Mark Galli: That I am not writing from a position of strength. My family and friends tell me that I do indeed live out Jesus’ “mean and wild” love — courage, boldness, righteous anger, etc. — more than many people. But I still feel that I am addicted to niceness, and that there are many instances when my courage to act in love fails me. So I’m looking to Jesus to help me grow in this area.
PC: What was your motive for writing this book?
MG: I wanted to address a subculture in many churches that emphasizes the gentler and more feminine virtues, which are great, but sometimes don’t address the tougher virtues like courage and boldness. This subculture puts out sermons where we hear how Jesus never got angry, never lost His cool, never said a mean thing and was always patient. This isn’t what you find in the Gospels. I personally was stunned by His boldness and anger found in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of Mark.
PC: Jesus is God’s expression of love. What misconceptions stop us from seeing this love?
MG: We live in a therapeutic society, which puts a huge emphasis on empathy and self-esteem in order to feel good about oneself. This, nearly exclusively, has come to be associated with love.
Also, a lot of people have abuse in their background. So there’s a lack of understanding about how sometimes the tough and painful path in life can actually be the good path to take.
Love takes a variety of forms, which you learn quickly as a parent. A good parent is tender and tough, depending on what his child needs. We have a hard time translating this truth into our adult lives when we relate to God. Sometimes God is stiff and tough with us because He loves us. He’s not being abusive. Athletes tend to understand this concept better than the rest of the population.
Then there are social forces that stop us from expressing tougher acts of love. No one likes to be around others who make them uncomfortable. Tougher love requires courage, which we don’t talk much about today. We would rather behave nicely so others will treat us nicely. It keeps our relationships well-greased, but not always truthful.
PC: Why do we ignore the tougher portions of Scripture?
MG: I just led a class that addressed this topic. There was a discernable discomfort when I talked about the tougher scriptures. A lot of this discomfort revolved around the misconceptions by some Christians that anger and conflict are always wrong and that Jesus is always nice. We need to topple this false idol of Jesus that we’ve made.