[Part 3 of 7 – Tough Love]
When God created us in His image, he built within us the same grace and compassion that He Himself demonstrates, but when Adam and Eve fell, our Human Nature was created. In seeking to make himself more like God, man made himself less like God.
And so, grace and compassion do not come easily, even to Christians.
It is very much unnatural within our hearts, especially towards people who have hurt us personally or someone who is in the public eye.
Once a very popular Christian music artist, Ray Boltz came out as a homosexual not too long ago. The Christian community was shocked and largely appalled.
How could the same man who wrote “Thank You (For Giving to Lord)” admit to practicing a homosexual lifestyle and being comfortable with it?
But it’s true.
It happened, and this man who once stood so tall in the Christian community is now reduced to living with sighs and sneers from a people who once loved him.
In a news report on this at a Christian news site, the comments posted below it were widely varying, but many followed the premise of this one:
“The Bible tells us that we should ignore Christians who are living in sin, so it’s time to ignore Ray Boltz until he repents!”
Boy, it sure is nice to have a Biblical excuse for being a jerk, isn’t it?
The fact is, no, that isn’t what the Bible says. The Bible says not to associate yourself with the sexually immoral. But it doesn’t say to ignore them. It means don’t do anything to encourage the sin, but you are still called to love this person.
That is where we get the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
It’s a popular phrase in the Christian community, largely because we have to repeat it to ourselves so many times. But even this phrase gets used often times as an excuse to be unloving. Someone can say some terrible things, then claim to only be “hating the sin.”
If done right, the idea behind “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” is that you can disagree with homosexuality without taking it out on homosexuals. “Hating the sin” means you recognize that it is against the Word of God and refuse to practice it yourself. “Loving the sinner” means you will not turn your hatred of the sin they practice into hatred for the person him/herself, and in fact, all you will do is love them. No protests, no “hellfire and brimstone,” just love.
After I made a big mistake in life, I had a teacher write me a letter, telling me just how much she thought of me still, in spite of it. She wrote to me, “I’ve heard you say ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin.’ I have to say that I never liked that phrase, until now.”
She didn’t berate me for what I had done. She didn’t tell me how disappointed she was in me. She didn’t make me feel worse. She showed me love. Grace. Compassion. All these things, when I didn’t deserve them. Just like God.
Sometimes it takes having to be on the receiving end of love when you don’t deserve it to realize how it’s supposed to be done.
But when it comes to homosexuals or pro-abortionists and the like, Christians tend to join into a mob mentality of “We hate this sin!” But unfortunately, we take our hate for the sin out on the “sinners!”
That is our natural inclination, because it is hard to separate hate for sin from hate for sinner.
But God told us to love those who offend us, those who are against us, love even our enemies with the same love we would have for a close friend or family member.
But our human nature does not like the idea of loving our enemies.
Why should we love those who hate us, are against us, fight us? Why should it be our responsibility to reach out? Why do we have to turn the other cheek when we get slapped in the face?
Good questions. The answer? Because that is what God does every day and we are to be like Him as much as possible.
You and I fight God every single day. Even after we came to accept Christ as our Savior, we have fought God. We have loved ourselves more. Loved pleasure more. Sometimes we’ve been openly defiant, slapping God in the face. And every single time, He’s shown nothing but love and mercy in return.
He never stops giving us chances. No matter how far away from Him we run, we turn around and take one step back to Him.
How can we receive that kind of love and then not show that same love to the lost? And how can we call out the lost as “sinners” when we still sin, despite the fact that we now know better?
In fact, if I’m not mistaken, the only people Jesus ever called out as being sinners were the religious men who were doing everything wrong – in the name of God.