Christians should be known by the way they show the love of Jesus Christ, which comes from the Holy Spirit that resides within them. 1 Peter 4:8 reads, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” These verses tell us that we should love all people, saint and sinner.
Jesus ate with publicans and all types of sinners as recorded in Matthew 9:10-17, Mark 2:13-22 and Luke 5:29-39. I know of a person who once said, “I can’t allow my sister to continue to come to my house. She is a lesbian and she could be a bad influence on my children.” What kind of love is that? There are sinners all around us in society. Are we going to lock our children in their rooms because they will come into contact with sinners if they come out? We certainly need to protect them from dangerous individuals and pedophiles, but we should not forbid them to see their aunt because she is a sinner. A parent can train up their children to recognize sin, and if they become aware that their aunt is a lesbian, they can still love and pray for her instead of rejecting her.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 warns us that spiritual gifts, without exercising love, are like sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. They are hollow and people despise this type of a believer. Without love, a Christian’s words become meaningless, whether they talk to people privately or from the pulpit. I have witnessed many first time pastors, due to their immaturity or vanity, speak in a cruel manner and come against or reject an individual when they don’t agree with their theology or interpretation of scripture. This is not love. Real disagreements with the understanding of scripture exist, but this does not make the other person evil or worthy of rejection. I work across denominations with church leaders and Christians. I’m on the board of various Christian organizations with many different pastors. Some have opposing views from one another, yet we can be friendly and not condemn or be mean spirited. I am a member of a ministerial fellowship with both evangelical, Pentecostal and main line church leaders. We certainly don’t see eye to eye on the interpretation of every scripture, yet we can enjoy fellowship together. I would not condemn or rebuke them in any way. I may gently attempt to change their mind on interpretation and views, but would not mark them as individuals that needed to repent or they cannot come to my home. We know that certain interpretations of theology will never be proven until they happen, so we must operate in gracious love and understanding, working to avoid damaging conflict and separating of the brethren. Right now I am thinking of two cases, one in Texas and one in Oklahoma, where God fearing righteous parents have been prevented from seeing their grandchildren due to a disagreement over doctrine or some decision made in the past. The son in one case and son-in-law in another case, who is a pastor, won’t allow it and it is hurting these fine folks whom I have known since 1998. These people don’t seem to realize the warnings of Christ about honoring their parents so their days may be long and they may prosper (Ephesians 6:2-3) or if one does not forgive, God will not forgive them either (Matthew 6:14-15). Another serious truth is “whatsoever you sow you will also reap” (Galatians 6:7-10). One day the children of these persecutors may come back to attack them over decisions etc.
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Colossians 2:9 talks about the “fulness of the Godhead” and Ephesians 3:19 states, “And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” This fulness is describing the measure of God’s love that should be dwelling in us and being exhibited through us. Romans 8:32 explains to us how far God’s love goes as demonstrated when he spared not HIs own son to be crucified for our sins. Jesus was filled with the “fullness of God”. There was nothing He would not do for us. Read Galatians 2:20 and Revelation 1:5-6. 1 John 4:11 reads “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” John 14:9 tells us that if we know Jesus, we know God because Jesus and God are filled with the fullness of love.
The gospel is love, forgiveness and restoration. True love draws all men to Jesus and to one another. Families are restored through love, not condemnation and rejection. We need to strive to have the spirit of Jesus, not the spirit of the Sanhedrin. Let the love of Jesus flow through each of us so people can see our good works and give glory to God for His power, grace and forgiveness. Love conquers all.
Dr. Jonathan Hansen
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