Whenever issues such as sexual immorality, racism, or any other hot-button topics come up, what’s your knee-jerk reaction to them? That it’s wrong? That it’s against God? If so, you’re in the right; if we desire to be in a right relationship with God, we should abhor the sins He abhors.
Please note that I did not say that we should abhor the people who commit those sins.
What we need to remember when dealing with issues or sinful lifestyles that come up in conversation is that we can – and should – stand against those sins, but that we still need to love everyone, regardless of those sins. Also, it all starts with love. Then, it starts with us actively loving others.
So, how do we do that? Here are two ways:
We show love to others based on Christ’s example, and we love the way Christ would love.
Jesus was known to visit with everyone wherever they were, no matter who they were. He would talk to the tax collectors as well as the priests, making sure everyone knew His message and of His love. As Christians, we should be doing the same.
But does that mean accepting the harmful lifestyles that sinners adopt and letting them continue on their merry way? Absolutely not. Jesus told the woman who wept at His feet and anointed them with her hair to “go in peace” (Luke 7:48). Jesus didn’t endorse the woman’s sin; He forgave her for it instead. He didn’t say that it was alright, or that it was just a part of her lifestyle; He acknowledges that they were in fact sins, but forgave her for them through His love and grace, telling the Pharisee who was with him that “to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” after he judged the woman for her sins on sight (Luke 7:47b).
He also handled the situation of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-12 in the same way: He forgave the woman and saved her from death by stoning, but in John 8:11b, He tells her to “go and sin no more.” This is exactly how we should handle discussions with those we don’t agree with. We can tell them why we don’t agree with them using scriptural evidence, but we need to make sure we’re not attacking them as people.
We show love to others by our actions.
Love isn’t just a noun; it’s a verb. It’s an active practice, and it’s one that we can enact towards everyone. In fact, that’s what we’re called – and commanded – to do (John 13:34-35). Love doesn’t favor specific people, and love doesn’t favor only Christians. It’s meant for everyone. Christ died on the cross not just for those who already believe in Him, but for everyone who has and will believe in Him for ages to come. As such, we need to actively love everyone, because that’s exactly what He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for.
Also, think about this: there are so many people who haven’t experienced what Christlike love really is, or who feel that their lifestyle without God is the only way to go, or are jaded by any hypocrisy or any other struggles that they may have experienced. However, if we show love to others in a genuine way, they’ll be able to tell that we live and breathe and love for the cause of Christ, and as a result, they just might see us in a more positive, lest antagonizing light.
But what if the other person thinks we’re attacking them if we don’t agree with them? One way you can prevent any misunderstanding is to have a good relationship with the person first. If you tell a stranger who’s supporting a Pride Parade that what they are doing is wrong, they will most likely write you off as a bigot and never speak to you – or worse, never consider Christianity as an option – again.
However, if you have a solid friendship with the other person, they’ll be more likely to listen to your stance. They won’t think you’re baiting and switching them if you support them and then at some point openly disagree with a sin like sexual immorality. When you disagree on your stance on a sin, let them know that you do not believe that the sin is right based on what you believe in His Word, but let them know that you love them. If that established trust is there, they will hopefully understand why you believe what you believe, and won’t feel like they’re being attacked.
Also, encouraging them to ask questions about why you believe in God and what exactly you believe about certain topics – especially topics like homosexuality, transsexuality, racism, and so on – will also be helpful to the both of you. In the end, though, only God can change the heart of a man, and though you are to go into the world and preach His gospel (Matthew 28:16-20), He’s the only one who can really bring their heart heavenward.
Truth be told, we’re all in the same boat. We all sin, and we all have the opportunity to both give and receive God’s love. Our calling is to love others while still upholding that God’s Word paves the way to the truth, and thus paves the way to Heaven.
By Savannah Cottrell