Over the past 10-15 years I have witnessed a subtle shift being preached from pulpits all across the nation.

Oftentimes, these shifts are a result of pushing back against negative claims from our culture. Other times it is in response to a new “hobby horse” that is being circulated in Christian schools or schools of preaching. For instance, in years past, New Testament Christians were accused of not embracing the concept of grace—and so, pulpits rushed into overtime to prove we believed in grace.

Today, the shift has moved toward “love.” Christians have been accused of being unloving, confrontational, and sometimes mean-spirited in our “tolerate everything” culture.

In response, pulpits (and pens) have been working overtime to push an ideology of “loving your neighbor” at the center of everything. It’s all about showing love and being nice. Sadly, the pendulum has swung too far, and we no longer preach/teach strongly against sin.

It’s almost as though we believe we can literally love people into the baptistry by just being nice. Real repentance and conversion can only happen if there is godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10)—which means Christians have an obligation to point out sin. As Focus Press’s Jack Wilkie recently pointed out:

“The modern church would run Elijah and half the minor prophets out of town on a rail. Paul wouldn’t last long either. Not nice enough. We have no concept of when it’s time for direct speech and hard truths and when it’s time to soften our words. If your approach has no room for one or the other, it will prove useless when the time comes.”

Love is not a new concept—and it is most assuredly a biblical command. But this new emphasis of love is different from years past. This new emphasis on (misguidedly) loving our neighbor often has preachers pulling Scripture out of context so that we never confront anyone, never offend anyone, we never speak directly and boldly about sin, and that above all, we are viewed as “nice” by our lost neighbors.

Before I allow everyone to cling blindly to this concept of trying to love people into the baptistry and become silenced about sin, allow me to point out a few Truths:

  • God is love (1 John 4:8).
  • Sometimes love looks like punishing/cursing Cain and banishing him (Genesis 4:11-12).
  • Sometimes love looks like wiping out every human except 8, because their thoughts were on evil continually (Genesis 6:5-7).
  • Sometimes love looks like raining fire and brimstone and destroying cities because of immoral behavior (Genesis 19:24-25).
  • Sometimes love looks like God killing people for lying (Acts 5:3-5).
  • Sometimes love looks like turning over tables because of wickedness (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18).
  • Sometime love looks like calling people brood of vipers or hypocrites because they speak evil things and their hearts are wicked (Matthew 12:34; Matthew 23).
  • Sometimes love calling out specific unrighteous behaviors and informing people those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; see also Ephesians 5:3-5).
  • Sometimes love means calling out specific things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).
  • Sometimes love means calling out religious teachers and leaders for using religion for their own gain and keeping people in bondage (John 2:13-16; Mark 3:4-5).
  • Sometimes love means calling out immoral behavior (Hosea; Amos; 1 Corinthians 5)
  • Sometimes love looks like sending your Son to the cross for all of mankind (John 3:16)

Yes, God is love. So consider this:

  • The love of God is keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3; John 14:15)
  • Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10)
  • In other words, love and reproof are NOT mutually exclusive.

To “love” is to do what God says to do in the way He says do it.

Paul wrote, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). In other words, to be loving is to be lawful; to obey God’s commands.

Maybe instead of trying to “love” people into the baptistry, silencing Christians against confronting sin, and preaching “love, love, love,” we should spend a few weeks focusing on the full-portrait of God. Talk about His holiness. Talk about His wrath. Talk about His righteous judgment. Talk about the things He hates.

In doing so we just might prick some hearts with godly sorrow, and see repentance come back into our auditoriums.