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Biblical Love in a World Gone Mad
And why the message of repentance will always be loving
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:8–9)
Our present age is one in which “love,” as we refer to it, has become so distorted as to be hardly recognizable. Acts of flagrant rebellion against God are gleefully sanctioned in the name of love; evil is everywhere celebrated, supposedly, for the sake of love; oppression is promulgated for the cause of love; and lies are disseminated throughout every corner of society under the guise of love. And lest we risk falling into abstraction, what I am referring to here are things like Toronto streets being filled with all manner of public sexual deviance in the month of June, libraries suddenly becoming the favourite haunt of bearded, cross-dressing weirdos, and untold numbers of children being murdered and mutilated each year precisely by those who ought to be protecting them.
There is scarcely a good thing left in the world that we have not perverted under the pretence of “love,” and yet most people are more upset that I referred to drag performers as “cross-dressing weirdos.” Such are the times, I suppose.
Even so, it continues to be true that despite our culture’s myriad distortions of love, love itself remains pure and undefiled. And this is because love is the kind of thing that doesn’t find its root in shifting human imagination, but rather in the eternal and unchanging character of God. As John reminds us, God is love (1 Jn. 4:8). Hence the place we must always begin, in order to see what love truly looks like, is God Himself. He and no other can reveal the nature of love, since He and no other is the fountainhead of love.
When we begin with the triune Lord as our starting point, we find that love is the kind of thing that does not “rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6) — and it does so precisely because God does. Love, in other words, delights in holiness, rejoices with righteousness, celebrates all that is good and true and beautiful, and jealously opposes all that would seek to harm the created order because the character of love is such that it always conforms to and harmonizes with the character and being of God. It is God and His immutable nature that sets the pattern for all that is properly called love, and all human action, thought, word, and deed must simply follow suit.
This is why the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!” will always be the most loving command the world has ever heard, and why the call to, “Be whatever you want to be!” will remain the most damning and unloving. The first accords with the will of God; the second defies it. The first comes from God; the second from the demons. And it’s high time Christians learned to tell the difference.
The role of the Church in these chaotic times is therefore to testify, with as much clarity and courage as God will grant, to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are perishing will cry that this is unloving, but those who are being saved will, by the Spirit’s power, receive this gospel as a fragrance of life to life (2 Cor. 2:16).
And besides, the fact that sinners decry the gospel has never been a sign that the Church is doing something wrong. To the contrary, it usually means just the opposite (Lk. 6:26).
Join the fringe.