Monday, November 29, 2010

Loved by the World

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." John 15:19

What do you think it means to be loved by the world? Does it mean to be tolerated? To be accepted or embraced? To peacefully coexist?

Recently, I have heard several stories of conflict arising within the body of Christ that makes me think that the church is far more into being loved by the world than being hated by the world. I mean, you can catch more flies with honey, right? Why would we purposefully make ourselves distasteful to the world? Wouldn't that defeat our call to go and make disciples?

Here's the thing - John 15 makes it painfully clear that if we are the chosen children of God we will be hated. Can we make the conclusion, then, that if we are not hated, we are not the children of God? That seems to be an extreme conclusion, but I think it warrants some thought.

Standing on doctrinal absolutes today seems to cause more trouble within the church than it does within the world. It seems to me that what would make us distasteful to the world would be the truth that we stand on - and that very truth has become distasteful within the walls of the church. Tolerance has become the accepted standard, and within this word we see extremes. Tolerance of all religion is on one end of the pendulum, and tolerance of all doctrinal beliefs is on the other end.

(Don't take a stand on literal creation - it doesn't really matter, does it? Don't argue 5 points of anything - they only divide and expose your intolerance. Don't make a big deal out of purity - people are going to do what they are going to do - welcome to the 21st century. Divorce is a valid option in all difficult marriages. Baptize whomever and however you please - just so the people feel good when it's done. Don't teach people to give, continue to blame sin on the past, you can't love others until you learn to love yourself and the Bible is not necessarily sufficient for all of life's problems - modern psychology and medicines help as well.)

And I was just getting warmed up.

The problem is that truth is intolerant of other "views" - there is only one truth and that means that truth finds no home within the tolerance spectrum. Can't you see that when we don't stand on truth, then we blend into the world and suddenly we are more popular than ever - embraced by not only our fellow church attenders but also the world? And when we don't stand on truth, we become spiritual Velveeta - we look and taste like Christ, but there is nothing real about us.

So, as I see it, we have a choice - love like the world wants us to love, with tolerance as our theme song. Then not only will we have a lot of friends in the world, but we will also have a lot of friends in the church. Or love like Christ exampled for us to love and warned of the consequences of being His children.

Remember, His love led Him to the cross, not because He won a popularity contest, but because He spoke truth.

Okay, that's my rant for today...I don't feel like I scratched the surface...


  1. Wow -- how interesting that I've been thinking some of this same stuff in the past few days. The hard part for me is determining how to live all of this practically. Some of it's fairly simple and habit at this point, but some of it isn't that straight forward. How do you figure out when it's worth putting yourself into situations where you're hated and when to avoid them. I want to protect myself and my family, but I'm also called to reach out to the lost. Where's the balance? How do I determine what's wisdom and what's just plain selfishness? Hmmm...a bit of a dilemma. Maybe I can pick your brain a little, tomorrow?

  2. Yes, we'll talk at study, but for starters I think believers need to make the choice to "study to show themselves approved unto God - a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed as they rightly divide the Word of truth." Too many of us (and I'm not talking about you, Jen) choose to be spoon fed here and there, and think they are being nourished, only to find out when they are confronted with truth that they've been eating imitation baby food for years. We have to take responsibility for our own spiritual health, roll up our sleeves and start studying the Word. When we do that, you'll be amazed at what happens - you suddenly want to talk about what you are learning. That's the second step - and when that happens, then the persecution within and without the church begins, because most don't want to hear I too cynical today or what?

  3. One more thing - some of my favorite bloggers are studiers who can't keep quiet about what they are learning - Overcomer and the Orange Mailman are two great examples of that. And I daresay that both have been persecuted or challenged about their beliefs simply because they have chosen to be vocal about them.