When Love is Perceived as Hate

bunyan

The law of the Lord is perfect and preserves one’s life.
The rules set down by the Lord are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.
Psalm 19:7

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He [Jesus] interpreted to them the things written about Himself in all the scriptures. Luke 24:27

Then He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then He opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures and He said to them: “
Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Luke 24:44-47

I was feeling sad and disturbed this week. I have been praying for peace and wisdom. This morning I opened the scriptures to my reading for the day and was refreshed by the life-breathing words in Psalm 19. I used the verses to filter the plethora of thoughts swirling around my heart and mind …

When someone concludes/believes they have the answer to something, and that it is the only answer, should they say they don’t really know if they have the answer, just so they’ll appear humble? Or nice?
Well, let’s say my child had a disease that I truly believed would kill them, even if they could not see it and they actually felt OK. And what if I had in my possession the only certain cure – which had healed others – but they refused the cure because they did not believe it or because the taste caused them discomfort? Would it be evil for me to continue to try to convince them of the hope I have in the cure? Even if they felt annoyed, would that mean my heart had hate toward them if I continued to plead?
I understand that people may disagree (for reasons of their own) with the thing of which I’m convinced. And I understand that misuse and abuse have distracted or even damaged many who need it desperately. But if I sincerely believe it is life-giving, surely one could understand that it is love that compels me to share it. Not hate.

The Lord’s precepts are fair and make one joyful.
The Lord’s commands are pure and give insight for life.
The commands to fear the Lord are right and endure forever.
The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy and absolutely just.
They are of greater value than gold, than even a great amount of pure gold; they bring greater delight than honey, than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb.
Yes, your servant finds moral guidance there; those who obey them receive a rich reward.
Psalm 19:8-11

It would appear that not everyone has the right motives in sharing their beliefs about the life-giving Gospel.
And certainly, not everyone shares their beliefs in the right way.

But there are many who are attempting to do so – out of love. And they are actually brokenhearted that people refuse the gift they believe will save them. The most difficult part for me is to continue to read/hear people, especially those with platforms, lump us all together. Admittedly, there are people who call themselves Christ people and create much angst for me. But recently, I have seen more disdain and contempt for gospel-sharing persons than I have in all my adult years. The most painful judgments are those that come with subtle verbiage used to communicate that the majority of gospel-driven folks (who hold fast to the scriptural authority) are ignorant and intolerant because of their deep assurance of things hoped for and their deep conviction of things not yet seen.

Someone may reject that I believe in a gospel that is exclusive – that it’s only for those who repent and trust in the righteousness of Christ for their salvation. But my desire is that they know my love for them compels me to tell them to come just as they are to Him, with all their brokenness and shame, so they can exchange it for wholeness and hope. I once was lost and blind, too. But now I’m found and I desire to know God through His word, that I may discover what separates me from His holiness. The Jesus who healed diseases, befriended the marginalized and comforted friends in death is the same Jesus that went to the cross in my place and is the same Jesus who spoke to and through the Psalmist about guilt and sin.

Who can know all his errors?
Please do not punish me for sins I am unaware of.
Moreover, keep me from committing flagrant sins; do not allow such sins to control me.
Then I will be blameless, and innocent of blatant rebellion.
Psalm 19:12-13

With all my heart I seek You. Do not allow me to stray from Your commands!
In my heart I store up Your words, so I might not sin against You.
You deserve praise, O LordTeach me Your statutes!
With my lips I proclaim all the regulations You have revealed.
I rejoice in the lifestyle prescribed by Your rules as if they were riches of all kinds.
I will meditate on Your precepts and focus on Your ways.
I find delight in Your statutes; I do not forget Your instructions.
Psalm 119:10-16

Love is perceived as hate when it takes a stand against a person’s evil, but the person does not see it as such. Pastor Greg Gilbert said that “nobody wants a God who declines to deal with evil. We just want a God who declines to deal with our evil.”
I want to delight in the Lord’s precepts. And I continue to learn from scripture what breaks God’s heart (and law). If the law of God is perfect and brings life through the Son’s death and resurrection, I want to know it and give it. Taking a stand so that people will have life should be done in the right way – “gently, openly, and intelligently – so that people see how gloriously God created them …”

My prayer is that I continue to have the heart of Christ for every person I meet and also the ones I don’t … in all the nations. I want to cry with Him over those who don’t recognize Him (Matthew 23). I want the people who feel marginalized and disconnected and hopeless to find rest (Matthew 11). But I also realize that people will sometimes mistake our testimony of Christ’s call to the crucified life (Matthew 10) as a personal judgment rather than a deeply held conviction about the only way to hope and joy and life. I don’t want people to hate me. I don’t want people to hate those I love. I mostly don’t want people to hate Jesus. But …. they will. They always have and they always will.

I’ll let Kevin DeYoung conclude for me:

As a general rule, Jesus was popular with the masses (the exception being in his hometown of Nazareth), and as His popularity increased with the crowds, so did the opposition from the Jewish leaders. The Jewish leaders disliked, and eventually grew to hate, Jesus for many reasons. Mark 15:3 says the chief priests “accused him of many things.” They were angry with Him for upsetting their traditions and some of their scruples about the law. They looked down on Him for eating with sinners and associating with those deemed unclean or unworthy. But most of all, they hated Jesus because He claimed to be from God, and as time went on, dared to make Himself equal to God.

That’s why they hated him; that’s why the crowds turn on him; that’s why Jesus was put to death. The Jewish leaders could not recognize Christ’s divine authority and identity. Jealousy was no doubt part of it (Matt. 27:18). But deeper than that, they simply did not have the eyes to see or the faith to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. That’s why in all four gospels, when the opposition against him reaches its climax, Jesus is not charged with being too welcoming to outsiders, but with being a false king, a false prophet, and a false Messiah (Matt. 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:66-71; and less clearly in John 18:9-24). They killed Jesus because they thought he was a blasphemer.

In the end, it was the implicit and explicit claims Jesus made to authority, Messiahship, and God-ness, not His expansive love, that ultimately did Him in. This is not an excuse for our own hard-heartedness or a reason to distance ourselves from today’s “sinners and tax collectors.” We need Jesus’s example to set us straight. But we must put to rest the half-truth (more like a one-eighth truth, really) that Jesus was killed for being too inclusive and too nice. The Jewish leaders may have objected to Jesus’s far-reaching compassion, but they wanted Him dead because He thought Himself the Christ, the Son of the living God.
If Jesus simply loved people too much He might have been ridiculed by some. But without His claims to deity, authority, and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, He likely would not have been executed.

Christ people should be known for brotherly love and hospitality; for prison care; for healthy marriages; for sexual purity; for generosity, not greed; for contentment; for confidence and peace; for respect; for faithfulness; and for displaying grace in all things because He equips us with every good thing to do His will, working in us what is pleasing before Him.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
To Him be glory forever.

Amen

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