Having it Both Ways

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Last time, I wrote about how we as Christians, instead of being hypocritical, should try to imagine what it’s like for those who don’t know God. We should love on people.

But society would have us head from one extreme to the other and tell people there is nothing wrong with sin.

Today, many people are preaching acceptance and tolerance. The popular conclusion is that either you love everything about someone, or you hate/fear everything about someone. For many, it’s either tolerance or persecution.

In fact, a popular consensus is that Jesus’ main message was peace and tolerance. People who say that obviously haven’t read the Gospels.

Everywhere Jesus went, He healed the sick, cast out demons, and forgave sins. He never once told someone they were just fine the way they were.

When He encountered sick people, He healed them. After He forgave sins, He told those people to “go and sin no more”. He told those who wanted to follow Him that they would have to deny themselves and take up their cross in order to do so.

Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if a doctor said to his severely ill patient, “Oh no, you’re fine just the way you are. We’re not going to change you at all.”? That person would die without the necessary treatments and that doctor would be responsible.

So how can we think that a Righteous and Holy God, who cannot tolerate sin to the degree that He sent His Son to die as an atoning sacrifice, would then teach people that sin is acceptable?

Imagine giving your life in exchange for a cure for someone else’s disease and then telling them they are just fine and don’t need to take it. That’s ludicrous. And that is not Jesus’ message.

“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.”

Luke 12:51

People do not like to hear that they are doing something wrong. But if we love them, and have compassion on them, we have to tell them. Even if that causes division. Even if it gets us labeled as judgmental hypocrites.

Let people call you that if they want. Just make sure it isn’t true.

As I said last time, make sure you’re preaching God’s Word and not your own set of rules.

You can show someone compassion without tolerating a sinful lifestyle that’s drawing them away from God.

You can give someone grace and tell them to repent before it’s too late.

You can give people selfless, patient love while still hating the sin that’s separating them from God.

satan wants you to believe that it’s either one way or the other. Please don’t believe him. Instead, ask God to work in your heart and love others through you.

Ask Him to fill you so full of His perfect love that it spills over onto everyone you meet, whether they like it or not.

What do you think? Can you love someone without accepting their lifestyle? Or am I way off here? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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About Leah Ness

I am a self-professed story addict. Ever since I was little, I've had an overactive imagination and a passion for a well-spun yarn. When I grew up, I was blessed with a passion for God as well. It was then that I noticed a relative shortage of unique Christian fiction, the kind that can both captivate you and glorify God. So, despite the hurdles of things like commas and homonyms, I am endeavoring to write some of my own. Check out my Books page for updates on current and future books. View all posts by Leah Ness

16 responses to “Having it Both Ways

  • setyourpathsstraight

    “Ask Him to fill you so full of His perfect love that it spills over onto everyone you meet, whether they like it or not”. AMEN TO THAT!

  • Karen Pickering

    This is spot on, Leah. The kind of radical love Jesus showed was not passive and tolerant. We need to love people enough to be truthful with them.

  • rosesnearrunningwaters

    Great post. It’s like the old saying “hate the sin, love the sinner.” It’s a fine line but we are called to stand up for our beliefs while also showing God’s love to everyone. God Bless 🙂

    • Leah Ness

      It’s a fine line indeed, one that I don’t think we’ll ever completely master. That’s why I’m so grateful that God works, and loves, through us. Thanks for stopping by and for the encouraging comment!

  • Susan Irene Fox

    So, the definition of “lifestyle” is: the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.” Does this mean that if I love all teenagers but think their lifestyle is unacceptable – driving while texting (habits), talking back to their parents (attitudes), listening to vulgar music (tastes), a propensity to experiment with sex or drugs (moral standards), economic level (having a sense of entitlement about money, or spending it on useless stuff like make-up or ear studs), I am called to evangelize to them and accept the sinner but not the sins?

    Think about this really hard because as Christians, we tend to use the term “lifestyle” for one group. And the individuals of every group act, think, and vote differently, and have very different moral and economic values. And many are Christians, too.

    • Leah Ness

      I agree the word ‘lifestyle’ has developed a negative connotation. For the purpose of this discussion, what I meant by ‘sinful lifestyle’ was any lifestyle that goes against the Bible. As I said in my last post, we Christians tend to impose our own rules and regulations on people, and that’s not right. If, however, that person is clearing walking in violation to the Scriptures, we are called to hold them accountable if they are fellow Christians, or to warn them if they are non-Christians.
      So in the example you present with teenagers, I would say that if an individual teenager is disrespecting his/her parents or experimenting with sex, two things that are clearly forbidden in the Scriptures, then yes, you are called to evangelize to them and warn them away from that behavior. If they simply have different taste in music or spend more than you think they should on make-up or ear-studs, then you should reevaluate whether what they are doing is sinful, or if it’s just something you personally dislike.
      Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post, and for your thought provoking comment =)

      • Susan Irene Fox

        Thanks for understanding where I was going with this. I tend to bristle when I hear that word. I think I knew where you were going as well, and agree that we can’t walk away from someone we know to be headed in the wrong direction. Biblically, we are to talk with them in private and do our best to bring them onto the narrow path.

        Yet I had to also bring up what has become a “trigger” term for many.

      • Leah Ness

        Of course =) We all have words that cause us to ‘bristle.’ I was glad for the opportunity to explain my point a little more clearly. Again, thanks so much for reading/commenting!

  • Pocketful of Motherhood

    Hi Leah, I really like the Rick Warren quote you started with. I have convictions because I have been changed by God’s Love. There are things I firmly believe because I have a relationship with the Lord, and I trust that He knows what is best for me. There has been an inward change in me, and my outward actions should naturally reflect that change. I think as Christians sometimes we try to change people and argue our point, without first pointing them to God’s love. We forget how powerful God’s love is. It’s His love that changes hearts and changes lives. Sometimes we are the vessel through which He gets His message across {and we are supposed to be}, but it’s Him that truly changes a life. I think all I’m trying to say is that we need to show nonbelievers God’s love first, and then be a part of helping to show them the way. God is very clear in the Bible that there are things we should do and not do, and I think a person is much more likely to be responsive to those things if they know God has put those things in place out of His passionate love for us, and not because He is judging us. I don’t know if I’m making sense, but I think we are saying some similar things and you make some good points. I know your message is also addressing Christian to Christian, and how we are supposed to hold each other accountable which is very true. I just went on the evangelizing tangent I guess 🙂 Thanks for sharing this.

    • Leah Ness

      I definitely appreciate where you’re coming from and I agree that it is God and His love that does the work in peoples’ hearts. As with many other aspects of the Christian walk, when it comes to evangelism we tend to get this notion that God needs our help, and that He can’t save that person without us. So we set out in our own power to save the poor sinners. Whether it’s from an earnest desire for their good, or indignation over their sin, we can end up doing a lot of damage.
      I believe that if we set our hearts on God, and love others simply because He told us to, that He will direct our words and actions. Some people minister loving encouragement really well, while others specialize in loving correction (I think Living Waters ministry is a good example of the latter). And some non-Christians respond well to the encouragement while others respond better to the correction. Loving them and warning them means meeting them where they are and allowing the Lord to love them through us, whatever that looks like for that individual.
      Thank you so much for reading my post, as well as for the insightful comment =)

      • Pocketful of Motherhood

        Beautifully put! Words of affirmation mean a lot to me so I guess I’m one who gravitates to encouragement, but like you said loving correction is also important. Finding the balance between showing compassion and speaking the truth can be tricky. It helps to hear the insight of others. Thanks and blessings!

  • nicielee

    Well said! I agree. There are many people I love unconditionally and whole heartedly accept; I pray for them and even want to hang out with them. But I may not believe in nor allow certain sins or activities into my own home nor into my own life. They often see this as rejection. And then I think, wait… Unconditional love and respect only works for you if it’s in favor of 100% of your life choices and conduct? Do you not unconditionally love me in return despite my choices and conduct, which can also at times be imperfect? Free will… It is a gift of God given to EVERYONE to exercise. We can love but what a great perspective you gave. Jesus loved everyone. But for those ailing or with sin, IF they sought him out, he would heal them and often say “sin no more”.

    • Leah Ness

      Thanks so much! It’s hard to find that balance between compassion and compromise, especially when the person we love may still read our disapproval as a rejection. Thankfully, God is here to help. Thank you very much for reading and for the encouraging feedback!

      • nicielee

        The Lord fills the gaps and shortfalls in our lives. It’s between the individual and God. We can love and forgive others, but we can’t make them receive it. All we can do is pray and let God do the rest. So much easier said than done. And sometimes even heartbreaking. Thank you again for your post. I loved it! Have a happy day!!

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