More than ever, society views Christians as a judgmental group of people. Why? In a religion that is founded on the principle of unconditional love, why are its followers so hateful? The Biblical principle of no sin being greater than another is non-controversial and an established truth. Yet why do Christians struggle to practice this in their daily lives?
We pick and choose what sins we think are redeemable and what we think are not. People are judged and ridiculed for their sin looking different than someone else’s. I am using the familiar example of the LGBTQ+ community, a group that has been ostracized from inside the walls of the church. Even if you believe that being homosexual is a sin, why are these people being shoved out the door? The church has made homosexuality a deal breaker while other sins are ignored, sometimes even praised. Love and acceptance are preached until it is time to do the hard work of distributing equity to those that are disadvantaged. That’s when it is ‘their’ problem and not ‘ours’.
People always say, “hate the sin, love the sinner”, but use it as an excuse to be hateful. Yes, we need to love people and hate sin, but in modern Christianity people use that saying to condone the idea of tough love. Tough love is not love at all, and it is not biblical. The Bible talks of a love that is unconditional and without judgement. You are not loving the person well if you do not accept them. We far too often pick and choose what part of people we want to love and what part we want to ignore or criticize. The change starts when we come to the realization that we cannot discriminate against who is under God’s love; that being all parts of all who are created. God does not make mistakes, so telling someone that they are not good enough is shortchanging them out a loving relationship with their Father. We are called to love God’s people. No kind of love shoves people out the door. No kind of love makes people question if they deserve to be alive. Stop using toxic theology as an excuse to be hateful.
I am sick of hearing, “Well, we are in a fallen world” as an excuse to be passive in our love. Many Christians use this saying to cushion the blow on their lack acceptance and love. It is used when people are actively aware of their shortcomings, but do not want to do the hard work of changing their prejudice. Loving others should be the center of our mission in the world, but the church has too often failed. It is time for us to focus on correcting that failure, as the people and the institution of the church.
The idea of loving others seems very abstract. What does that look like in a practical way? I believe it is when we enter into the suffering of the world, stepping into the mess of the human life. That is when we can love people well, going past the surface. That is what a lived theology is. Our view of God cannot, and should not, just stay up in the clouds. It needs to enter into the world, it needs to enter into lives.
I believe that Christianity can be so good, but we first have to realize the damage that so many people who claim Jesus as their savior are causing. I believe in a God that is loving and wrathful. I believe that same God calls His people to be loving, and not wrathful. Humans are not the judge. We have no clue what God’s final intent is. We do not know who is in and who is out. We do not know who is under God’s wrath and who is not. That is why Christians are called first and foremost to love God and to love others. Love is the most recurring theme in the Bible. It is time for it to become the most recurring theme in our lives.