Is it possible to love sinners and hate sin? Does God?
Before you read further, understand (and weep if you like) that I have
lived at several levels of “minority lifestyle” for 7/8’s of my life,
am politically some 80 percent to the left and have been for years,
came out of sexual, drug and art addiction (the only true way to put it)
and have dear friends and a few enemies in nearly any social, political,
church and non-Christian group you might care to name.
My travels over 2/3’s of the world include hearing congregants speak in
one ear and leaders in the other in a wide, wide range of faith circles
as well as a large amount of listening, interacting and working for
justice and grace with and among non-believers. I am in no way an
“angry white male” nor do I think anybody including me, has all the
answers to ANY issue.
Understanding this is who I am, please consider love and two key words
that in my view, provide both encouragement and discouragement, even
loud dissension in our own heads and hearts.
A distinctively Christian, Bible-based concept of love includes
forms of expression but always lands on the ground of agape, that is,
the deepest, truest love. Agape (the biblical Greek word for such love)
includes several relationships but that of God’s love for us and our
loving Him in return is paramount.
We are not now discussing the love in a family, friends/hip or sexual
relationship, rather another love that makes all these truly fulfilling
and even rather eternal in scope.
Throughout the wider world and certainly among church folks regardless
of Christian theology, doctrine, practice, “form”, in or outside any
particular building, this “agape love” is at core.
Yet thinking about both world and church history, I believe there are
two words that help to “unpack” what love entails, in both human and
“Acceptance” and “rejection”. Yes, -both- terms.
Who reading this has not experienced these from people you deeply care
about, even love? Who among us has not projected both towards others
-including those you truly love?
The issues, the details are vast.
You might accept all, parts, only a very tiny part of this blog post.
You may reject it all. Regardless you still may indeed truly like, maybe
even love me- true?
We routinely accept or reject ideas, lifestyles, political persuasions,
driving directions, websites, media of all sorts, people we have never
met, our next-door neighbor, a spouse or former spouse, our parents, our
local sports team, the list is endless.
We may well accept one Christmas or birthday gift and get another back
to the store asap even though a person we dearly love and who dearly
loves -us- carefully selected, wrapped and delivered it with the finest
present wrap EVER, with the sweetest, most appealing accompanying card.
Being accepted is often the affirming, warm hug, the smile of “you’re
not only o.k., you are CELEBRATED in your personhood in my/our company”.
WHO WITH A HEART AND MIND DOESN’T DEEPLY CRAVE SUCH FROM OTHERS?!!
And then there is the sting of rejection.
The truly hurtful, snarky back-handed comment,the look of disdain, the
disgusted, nose-pinch of “just WHO let YOU in amongst US”, the “we’ŗe
picking you LAST on our team…”, that sense of “you LOSE around here and
don’t even try, do not BOTHER us with your presence”, perhaps a sense
of “what IDIOT invited YOU to our gathering!!!” sort of vibe.
Now how would I know anything about such experiences, feelings or
realities in life?
I have been on the giving and receiving end of both throughout my
pre-Christian and current faith-filled years, both within and far
outside of anything you would refer to as “church”.
EVERYONE is a member of this club and has been wounded as well as
wounded others. It is part of our life journey and we must
not pretend otherwise.
So for a moment, might we consider God, not merely human relationships?
IS there “a time for every purpose under heaven”?
Does the God of the Bible fully accept or fully reject anyone, ever?
Does He (in both Testaments) ever fully reject or completely accept any
Did Jesus fully “accept” or blatantly “reject” attitude, behavior X, Y or Z?
And the argument goes “Sure Glenn, but HE IS GOD… and does it all perfectly”.
Yes. And yes, correct, and you are saying we flawed, sinful humans do not.
You might also add “God IS LOVE dude… what are you saying here!”
In such a brief post I will not dive deeply into the issue of ethics
but in the end, I have come to a very strong personal conviction and
I would posit human nature is fully desirous of a designer God (or
“god”). In the end, though, either HE designs us or we design
IF there is a God (I believe there is) and He is the God of The Bible
(which I also believe to be true) and IF IF IF we seek to be formed by
The Book rather than form “scripture” in our own heads, honest study
reveals deep and genuine acceptance and equally, hardcore, even harsh
(by human sensibilities) rejection -and all this within His very nature.
Yes, HIS ultimately loving, just, actual nature.
I cannot seem to either study, think nor re-think my way out of this
and am very much at peace with it though believe me when I say I have
thought through the many costs of such a faith and position it puts me
Yes, “we all bring our own cultural, sub-cultural, ethnic, racial,
educational LENS to our Bible-reading and understanding”. Which is why
we owe God and others the integrity of checking these and associated
values at the door, best we are able. Without doing so we may well
re-interpret and indeed re-write meanings into the text at our (and
God will not change. God will NOT change. He -is- love, truth, light and
forgives, made the only WAY there is to eternal LIFE via His Son, the Lord
Jesus Christ to bring deliverance to a world and sometimes church/es who
have decided all too often to pick and choose what acceptance and rejection
should look like according to their own sense of love and justice.
Whether harsh or sentimental, God is above both in the human sense. He is
utterly righteous in all His judgments and acts. And He indeed NEVER stops
loving the person though He may fully approve or fully disapprove of the
person’s thoughts, words, deeds and choices. Sounds like the best sort of
parent… cuz He IS.
Oh how we are willing to die on hills that WE BUILD in order to find
acceptance and escape the pain of rejection, or to somehow block if not
erase anything other than full acceptance of those we love who feel the
pain of rejection.
I get it. Really.
Have you considered Christ-followers have been martyred for these very
reasons throughout history?
DOES GOD ever “draw lines” after which, by our “stepping over” we trash
our fellowship with HIM?
IS my relationship to God worth my being rejected by others, perhaps even
suffering under their hatred, perhaps even condemned by them?
Jesus said some incredibly distressing things we rarely hear from most
pulpits or even house church couches, from one spectrum of Christianity
to the next:
“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming
for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to
bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER,
AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW
AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS
HOUSEHOLD.” -Matthew 10.34-36
Changing the angle, again I say acceptance -and- -or- rejection is not fully
outside the nature of the biblical God as He reveals Himself in Christ.
Neither Father nor Son.
If we consider that we are able to both “grieve” and/or “quench” the
Holy Spirit (also part of the Triune Godhead) we must recognize that
we might think, speak and/or act in such a way that we experience the
true God Who is both a “rejecting” as well as “accepting” and yet
He loves us and is unchanging. He does not love each and all of our
choices, and indeed hates sin and what it does to us and to others. This
does NOT mean He hates -us-. HUGE point here!
If you have read this far, you get a prize! Really.
I will finish by reminding us again, that YOU and I both ROUTINELY
accept or reject concepts, people, scriptures, God or one another on all
sorts of criteria and indeed bias.
So GOD DOESN’T, or somehow CANNOT or WILL NOT?!! Ummm, you had better
face the face that you have now re-written a massive amount of
scripture and your cannon is now only that which fits between your own
ears, a designer god, not the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
I am indeed grateful, truly grateful, that it was the Person of The Book
and not merely a force, feeling or mere experience that opened my eyes
to the true, Risen Christ the night I came to believe.
I had to reject and repent of many things -both expect and accept
rejection from that very moment knowing many of my friends would (did)
become “enemies” whom I still had to love and forgive yet accept rejection
from -due to the “love of God shed abroad” in my heart.
THIS is part of the price one pays to be accepted in the kingdom of God.
I will not go into harsh, severe (and I believe fully absurd) extremes in
both Calvinistic AND Arminian theology, though I believe both have brought
plenty otherwise thoughtful believers to conclude the true God either accepts
or rejects everyone with zero free will of the person or conversely, we must
work ourselves into His acceptance as though we essentially save ourselves-
both extremes truly false in my study and understanding of The Bible.
Further, it is no mystery why some are banking on “universal reconciliation”
(salvation) and of course, oppose any sense of personal responsibility
before God. The issue is Who He truly is and how He defines Himself in
His Own Word, not merely how we wish Him to be.
There is indeed a Love, a Lord, a Savior, a Best Friend, and yes, a
Master. Only One.
There IS no other and no other relationship nearly as important.
Thanks for considering, and as always, for stopping by! -Glenn