“My friends are poor, rich, straight, gay, lesbian, homophobic, liberal, conservative, racist, Muslim, Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, addicted and clean. I’m trying to love them like Jesus loves me.”
said the meme on my Facebook wall, shared by someone close to me, also a professing Christian, teacher at a Christian school, and Sunday School teacher.
The meme is supposed to convey one message: “I don’t judge anyone. I just love them as they are, because Jesus loves me.” And everyone nods and says, “Amen.”
But that message is couched in a horrible misunderstanding of the true gospel, which ultimately, is the most hateful thing in all the world. And worse, it is the prevailing message of the modern church.
How does Jesus love me?
He died for me. If I were OK just as I am, the Son of God got the worst verdict in history. His tortuous death would be useless. He died so that I could have life, so that I would not have to face eternity in hell, because I was not OK. He had to die because my sins are so heinous to a holy God that a price is demanded. He stepped into my place and paid the price for me. Sin is that serious.
Which is why most of Jesus’ ministry here was spent saying, “Repent and believe.” That message came from the gut-wrenching love that couldn’t bear to think His death was for naught.
And if our love doesn’t come from that place, it’s no love at all.
Love is not love if it simply wants to be your friend, “just as you are.” Jesus never wanted us to stay as we are. We are doomed as we are. Our only hope is repentance and forgiveness.
And love is only love that seeks to warn, plead, point and lead others to the cross where they can put to death the deeds of the flesh that evoke God’s wrath.
And just like the often, mis-represented story of the adulteress dragged before her accusers, we must say with Jesus, “I do not condemn you. Now go and sin no more.”
I grieve for a generation of professing Christians who do not speak like Jesus or love like Jesus. More than that, I grieve for those led astray, right to the wrath of God, because of our skewed idea of the Gospel and our unwillingness to love as Jesus loved, urging our “friends” to repent and be saved.