What is a Loving Christian?

Yesterday as I put together another post on the Musings of the Gospel of John that I am going through, I ran into some Scripture verses where Jesus was asked a direct question and He responded to those who had asked Him the question. I will come back to those Scripture verses shortly but first I want to draw your attention to something that happens to me infrequently and I am pretty sure that it has happened to a number of you at one time or another.

Someone will say to me, “you call yourself a loving Christian, that doesn’t sound very Christ like”. And what they mean by that, is that what I am saying would not have been said by Jesus. The problem with that thinking is that Jesus did say things that were critical of others and He frequently did not mince words. And in addition to that, what they are also saying is that the words that are being said, do not agree with their perception or understanding of what love is, as perceived within the Bible.

These are the Scripture verses that I ran into yesterday. You will need to read John 9:13-39 for the context but the actual Scripture verses I am looking at are from John 9:40-41 NASB and they read as follows: “Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

In essence, what Jesus was inferring was that because the Pharisees prided themselves in following the Letter of the Law, Jesus uses their pride in following the Letter of the Law in answering them. “If you were blind (to the Law), you would have no sin (and would not be blamed for your unbelief), but since you claim to have sight (be aware of the Law), (you have no excuse so) your sin and guilt remain.”

Should Jesus have lied to accommodate not hurting their feelings? Should He have overlooked their false pride as a factor? Should He have overlooked their accountability? One must bear in mind that Jesus had a number of what can commonly be regarded as “harsh words” for those who professed to have faith and trust in God. The words that I have quoted are actually quite mild compared to some other adjectives Jesus used when talking about the Pharisees in particular.

The second aspect of this dialogue that we should consider is were these words that Jesus spoke, spoken in love? We all know that speaking the truth in love is critical as the Apostle Paul has expounded upon in 1 Corinthians 13 . A mistaken perception that some hold is that “love” is never the motivating factor in providing correction or having heartfelt concern for the well being of another individual. Considering that the Scriptures specifically state that God corrects those that He loves (Hebrews 12:5-7), we should not be surprised that Jesus corrected the Pharisees, even with their mistaken understanding. The long and the short of it is that God’s word tells us that it is not His will that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). The same questions I asked about what Jesus said to these Pharisees who asked of Him, if they too were blind, apply. Should Jesus have ignored His concern for their well being by overlooking their lack of understanding? Should He have kept silent because if you love someone you obviously would not call their misunderstanding into question or even make mention of it? From a Biblical perspective, the answers to all of these questions about their “feelings” or acting in love, is obviously NO.

Criticism from those who are outside of the Church, about members within the Church, is common and often expected. Criticism from those who are within the Church, about other members of the Church, is frowned upon by some but this is not a Biblical stance. It happened every day, just read the various Epistles. Can there be too much of it? Absolutely. Can there be not enough? Absolutely. We are admonished to accommodate those who are young in the faith. We are told to examine ourselves first before we venture out and criticize others. I have been guilty of criticizing when I should not have and I have been guilty of not criticizing when I should have. To infer that it didn’t happen in the early Christian Church defies the testimony of the Epistles. We are admonished to be forgiving because of how we have been forgiven. There is a balance that usually surfaces where ever people who honestly care and love one another come together as a Church. And no, it is not always easy.

I know that no one likes to be criticized and that includes myself. However, just because someone does call what we may advocate, into question, from a Biblical perspective, does not automatically indicate that they are unloving or being unChristian. And, it is equally important to acknowledge and understand, that when we reject criticism, without seriously taking into consideration the validity of what is being questioned, we are in effect, guilty of doing the very same thing that we may criticize others of. In other words, if you feel that you are concerned enough to criticize others, one must, of necessity, also be open and willing to being criticized oneself. Or another way of looking at it is, if you throw stones at others, standby for incoming. Moderation quickly becomes key.

Misconceptions about correction and how we should love others abound. There is a progressive learning curve that is always open to variables from my personal experience. We are imperfect beings in these imperfect bodies, each and every one of us. God’s love covers a multitude of sins. When we walk in the light of Jesus, the darkness within us can be and is, greatly diminished.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

14 comments

  1. The world as we know hates the word “sin.” A close second is “discipline.” People today hate discipline no matter how godly and loving it is given/administered. Like you said, because God loves us He disciplines us. It took me YEARS to understand this because I did not have an earthly father who administered loving discipline. Truthfully, my earthly dad thought it was unloving to discipline so I assure you, God has bent me to accept criticism from Him and discern criticism from others. I agree with you, how and what you say is a factor, but in today’s society, people’s reception of what is said reigns supreme. So no matter how well intended, well stated if the person doesn’t want to hear or has a negative emotional response to what is said we are labeled “unloving.” More and more Papa Bruce, the Lord is revealing what the mind, heart and hands really look like in the church. I don’t mean to be negative but I think this will only get worse in the West. I am thankful for men like you, Bruce. Who speak the truth, draw hard lines in the sand, yet are willing to humble yourself to admit mistakes and apologize when necessary. I am at the point that I am trusting God with how people receive things that I say. If I say it appropriately God gives me peace that the person is rejecting God’s correction/discipline/warning and not me. Love and blessings to you and Peggy!

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    • Hi Mandy, I would have a tendency to agree with you that it is going to get worse. Thank God that bringing about conviction is still the work of God’s Holy Spirit, so as long as we do our part as God leads us to, He will and does take care of the rest with regard to a person being convicted by a word spoken in love. And, following the leading of the Holy Spirit and trusting God for what happens next is right in line with what Jesus said, “ … without me you can do nothing.” Love in Christ to you and yours.

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  2. Good thoughts, Bruce! There are MANY false teachers and false teachings out there that are pretty blatant, yet in our post-modern world where relativism, tolerance, and plurality are worshiped, warnings about false teachers and Gospel-compromisors are taboo, even though Jesus and Paul named names.

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    • Hi Tom, I hear you. For some, criticism of any kind is frowned upon by, although those that do strongly object to criticism, seem to have no problem identifying what others shouldn’t be doing, which strikes me as also being critical. So in essence, being critical is OK as long as they are doing it and not someone else. Nice ground rules if you can get people to buy into it. Unfortunately many do. Anyway, one day at a time and pick your battles. Blessings Tom.

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    • I hear you on that one Annie. Dependency on the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit to know when to step forward and when to step back. Not to mention, the tone and manner in which the issue is to be discussed, if it is to be discussed, being separated from earthly humanistic tendencies. And that last aspect can be a dilly. I aim for an “A” grading but it can very easily slip into a “B” or a “C”. No excuse for anything less, we are Ambassadors for Christ and it is His honour that we should uphold. Lord, I need Your Spirit in me, I need you in my mind, I need you in my heart and I need you to guard these lips (or fingers as applicable). Blessings!

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    • Hi Bill, you’re right, it’s definitely not a popular subject. I guess that would be like “lawlessness” that Jesus said would be coming, where there is no defining law of what is right and what is wrong anymore. One day at a time. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in Canada so we’re having the whole crew over. Should be a busy day. Thanks so much for commenting and you and Mary have yourself a blessed new day tomorrow!

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  3. Speaking truth, even in a kind way, is often called dogmatic, divisive, bigoted, mean-spirited, just to name a few by the world. Many people, even some professed believers, only know one verse but don’t understand it…. “Judge not that you be not judged.”

    So if you speak up for life for the unborn, for marriage as God designed it, for sex only in marriage, say that if one does not work he does not eat, and all other forms of truth, people will call Christians hypocrites. Jesus had the same thing happen though, like when He drove the money changers out of the temple with a whip after turning over their tables, after he called religious leaders “white washed” and “vipers”, etc. He spoke absolute truth, and they plotted to kill Him then. Today is becoming more and more like Roman times and we should never expect more than what Jesus received.

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