Proclaiming God's Love with Boldness
- Tuesday, August 07, 2007
[Love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth (1 Cor. 13:6).
The word “love” has taken a beating over the years, and we Christians have far too often been part of the problem instead of the solution. We’ve allowed the culture of the day to influence our thinking and interpretation of the word, rather than adhering to God’s purpose and definition. As a result, we are in danger of reducing the word love to a synonym for being “nice” and non-offensive, thus stripping it of its power to rescue and redeem.
Now most of us know that the word love has more than one specific definition, but when we look at the word as it is used in the Scriptures to define the very characteristic and essence of God, we don’t find any wiggle room. Nowhere is the word better defined than in 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter.”
Most of us like the verses that say love is kind and humble and that it isn’t rude or envious or boastful. But what about the verse that says it “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth”? If we, as Christians—and particularly those of us who claim to be writers and speakers/teachers of God’s Word—don’t apply that verse to our own lives, how dare we presume to preach God’s love to others? God’s love is deep enough and faithful enough that it gets in the face of sin and calls the sinner to repentance, and then rejoices when that sinner repents and embraces the truth.
But have you noticed that not everyone responds favorably to an in-your-face-John-the-Baptist “turn or burn” message? Chances are, if you’ve ever delivered one—either verbally or in written form—you’ve received some less than enthusiastic responses. In an age of tolerance and political correctness, we Christians have the most intolerant, politically incorrect message on the planet—and God has commanded us to go into all the world and proclaim it, regardless of the results.
True, we are to “speak the truth in love,” meaning that the ultimate goal of our message is to see people come to repentance and embrace the truth so they can be saved, and we are to proclaim that message humbly, knowing that it is only by God’s mercy that we ourselves are saved. But the bottom line is, we are to speak that message anywhere and everywhere we get the chance. We do no one a favor by sugar-coating our words in an attempt not to offend anyone.
Decades ago I worked as a part-time secretary at a small church (not the one I attended) that had once burned with passion for Jesus but had since fallen into a deplorable lukewarm state of social acceptance. When the pastor turned over the monthly newsletter to me and told me I could put whatever I wanted into it, I wrote up my testimony and plastered it on the front page. Then I mailed it out to the approximately 250 people on the mailing list. A few days later an elderly man came into the office and demanded to speak to the pastor, and he insisted that I accompany him into the pastor’s office. I did, and as I stood there in the doorway, I watched and listened as that man planted himself in front of the pastor’s desk, slammed the newsletter down in front of him, and demanded, “Is this true?”
The pastor was stunned and asked what the man meant. The gentleman explained that he wanted to know if what I’d said about repenting and accepting Jesus as my Savior and being “born again” was absolutely the ONLY way to heaven. The pastor’s eyes glazed over for a moment, and his Adam’s apple bobbed a bit before he answered. Finally he bowed his head and nodded, admitting without speaking that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that NO ONE comes to the Father except through Him.
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