An alarming trend which has come to my attention is the fact that so many 21st century followers of Christ would rather degrade someone for having a differing opinion than show them love. They insult the dark rather than shine the Light.
Pastor Alan Beauchamp, of Praise Assembly of God, Springfield, MO, delivered a wonderful sermon yesterday regarding Christians who have abandoned their first love, Jesus. There are a plethora of articles and books on “getting back to your first love,” but that’s not exactly what this article is about.
One of his scripture references was Revelation 2:4-6, part of a letter written to the church at Ephesus:
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.”
One aspect of Pastor Beauchamp’s preaching I love is his ability to highlight something in a Bible verse which I’ve read 100 times but never “seen.” For example, in the scripture above: I’ve noticed the part about the Ephesians leaving their “first love,” which refers to their passion for the Lord, but I’ve never thought of it in comparison to the “hate” described in verse six. Crazy.
The Pastor brought out the fact that this group still hated the “right” things, such as the evil deeds of the sect known as the Nicolaitans (not much is known about them, from what I could find). It was their LOVE which had been abandoned.
Just so we’re clear, I’m never “preachy” in my blogs at all, as I’m not a theologian. I think of myself more as an inspirational coach, encouraging folks to never give up. This was just too compelling for me not to mention, however, as I see too much Christian “hatred” on social media these days.
Does “Christian hatred” seem like a contradiction in terms? As it regards to my personal experience on social media, let me explain what I mean.
Many remarks, memes and posts are made, not out of love, but from the following mindsets:
- Liberals are “idiots,” the so-called “loony left”
- People who believe in, carry out or have had abortions are “murderers”
- Muslims want you to either convert or die
- ISIS is out to kill your children
- Those who believe in gun control are “Nazi’s”
And on and on it goes. I know arguments could be made, and Bible verses quoted, to “support” all the items above, but that isn’t my point. What I’m attempting to express is this:
I see much more written about our hatred for the BAD than our love for the GOOD.
Yes, Jesus was angry at the money changers and turned the whole place upside down, but He is GOD, and was reacting to greed and blatant misuse of His Father’s house. Yes, He was very “pointed” with the Pharisees, calling them “spiritually dead” and “snakes,” but again, this was a small taste of God’s wrath, directed toward spiritual charlatans.
These were more isolated incidents, it seems. He was all about loving people.
Everyone from prostitutes to children wanted to hang out with Jesus. Why? Because He LOVED. Sure, He’d give you His opinion if you asked, and when the occasion called for it, but He was more about the love. You’d never find Him telling people how “idiotic” they were for not believing EXACTLY the way He did.
As the 60s song says, “They’ll know we are Christians by our LOVE” (© 1966, F.E.L. Publications, by Father Peter Scholtes).
Encouragement, not discouragement.
Love, not hate.
Lifting up, not tearing down.
Instead of looking for opportunities to love, we seem to be waiting to pounce on those who don’t clone our beliefs. Time and again I see those who are standing against the darkness, instead of spreading the light of Christ. Don’t get me wrong, we must take a stand against the dark, but EVERYTHING we do must be done in the light of God’s love.
Much more is said with a condescending spirit than a genuine LOVE for others. We’re not encouraging people anymore, we’re raggin’ on them for daring to have a different viewpoint.
“Oh no,” we snarkily chuckle, “please allow me to ENLIGHTEN YOU IN YOUR IGNORANCE. ”
YEESH, I wouldn’t wanna talk to that guy either, to be honest.
Jesus fed the 5,000 because He LOVED them, not because He hated hunger.
Jesus brought Lazarus back to life because He LOVED him, not because He hated death.
Jesus healed people because He LOVED them, not because He hated infirmity, sickness and pain.
Jesus exorcised demons because He LOVED the people whom the dark spirits had possessed, not because He hated the fallen angels themselves.
Jesus died for us, and came back to life on the third day, because he LOVED us, not because he HATED the devil.
No matter the hatred we have for darkness and the devil, the motive behind everything we do must be LOVE.
At least that’s how I see it.