God-is-Love or God-is-Holy? Yes
- Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:15Consider the following sets of words:
- Compassionate, communicative, kind, fair, long-suffering, patient, accepting, gentle, merciful, understanding.
- Honest, holy, set-apart, stand-taking, consistent, dedicated, mature, righteous, unyielding, just.
Which set best describes you?
Sometimes it feels like we Christians divide ourselves into these two camps. Camp A rightly believes that "1 John 4:7-8," and as such they do a fairly good job of not alienating those they meet and know and care for. Of course, with every strength there's a weak side, and sometimes our well-meaning Camp-A brethren can become wishy-washy and overly accepting, even false.
Camp B, on the other hand, rightly believes that "Leviticus 11:44," and as such they do a fairly good job of reminding those they meet and know and care for that sin is sin, and God can not tolerate it. Of course, sometimes our well-meaning Camp-B brethren can end up sounding a lot like gongs and cymbals, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. People know we're here, but they wish we'd quiet down for a bit. Perhaps all the conflict between our own camps has torn at your heart and worn down your spirit, too.
Now consider... which set of words best describes Our Father? Think about it before answering. Honestly, isn't it both? We'll come back to that thought in a minute.
I have a close friend, a youth minister, who has served many years at his current church. Recently, he was summoned to a meeting with the personnel committee and several parents. The gist of their message was that he was teaching the students too much about discipline and truth and knowing what the Bible says and so on. The criticism apparently was that there wasn't enough about love and compassion in his messages.
Reading between the lines, it was clear that fear was at work: fear that these students weren't being prepared for college and a world that is more about tolerance and acceptance and where Christian students who literally believe the Bible are ostracized. After all, who hopes for their child to face unpopularity, embarrassment, and harsh criticism while they're already struggling to get ahead in the world? My friend would point out that he's not opposed to compassion and love, not in the least. But what kind of foundation do you want to build in the youth?
It's sad. Because at the end of the day... why can't we have both?
I'm not talking about vacillating. I'm not talking about compromise. I don't want to be lukewarm.
I am talking about balance; checks and balances. I do wish to be balanced. A position of balance is a position of strength. A balanced person stumbles less often. How much fun is a teeter-totter where all the weight is pushed to one side?
I am also talking about paradox. A paradox is a seeming contradiction that nonetheless contains truth. A paradox says an object or person or idea is both this and that. Jesus is the world's greatest paradox, being both fully God and fully man. With Christ as the example and the cornerstone, one learns to see that the whole Bible is full of paradox, including the fact that we can and should "Speak truth." "In love." Both/and. Just like Jesus.
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