Friday, October 4, 2013

Agape Love Triumphs

It's alarming to witness in social media, what has been happening in the church for centuries in a much less blatant way. And its effects are very destructive.

Non-Christians (they may be atheists or theists) often pose as "christians". They troll through Christian and Atheist sites debating and spewing horrible things in the name of Jesus; things that someone, who has truly become acquainted with the mercy of God, would never say or believe. But those who do not know God do not understand this, and instead they come away believing that Christians are horrible judgmental people who are condemning and enjoy condemning others, eagerly awaiting their destruction, or they come away with a false gospel, believing the false doctrines spread by these impostors.

Those who masquerade as Christians are not doing anything new. Read the book of Jude and you'll see that ever since the early Church these men have "crept in unnoticed". This is because they dawn the language and often the life style of the Redeemed and try to blend in among them in order to be stumbling blocks. And they do it well. Do not be deceived. They may be in your church today and they may serve on various committees within the church, but they are divisive and often caustic toward others, and what love they do show is inconsistent at best. Those who belong to Christ, when seeing their behavior, often "look the other way" because they want to "be at peace with all men" and they give the benefit of the doubt not wanting to be "judgmental". Most often these people go unchallenged in our church circles. And they gain more credibility the longer they go unchallenged because they look like long time church members...yet the entire time they've been in your midsts they have continued to divide and berate and spread gossip and disunity amongst the brethren. Their offensiveness does not go unnoticed, just unchallenged.

These men and women are able to be rooted out. Not only can you tell them by their fruits (hostility, divisiveness, bullying, denying or resisting the God given authority structure within the Church, to name a few), you can also tell them by their doctrine. They preach a different gospel than that of Jesus, twisting the gospel of grace entirely. These are those who would encourage and excuse the licentiousness of others, using partial scripture such as, "there is no condemnation". But they leave out the powerful key words of that verse, "for those who are in Christ Jesus". They cling to parts of scriptural doctrine, and even have a kind of "wisdom" about them that is very convincing. But their version of grace is severely lacking in godly love, personal discipline, and the pursuit of holiness. And they most certainly do not encourage accountability or unity.

The other thing these people do is swing to the other side of the pendulum and deny the grace of God by implementing a religion of legalism. But there is no root in actual faith in the sacrificial love of Christ, nor the redemption that is by faith alone.

Encountering these kinds of people can at times be discouraging. I must admit that this is something that has hindered my ability to trust people.  It might be that I have seen to many false forms of "faith", "friendships" or "christianity". I will definitely say that I've lost my idealistic belief that everyone in the church actually loves God and belongs to Him. That was a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary one, because, simply put, that belief wasn't grounded in truth at all. And honestly, I was not a better person for holding to it. I was merely ignorant, and believing it only opened me up to hurt and disillusionment.

But in the life of a believer,  Agape Love triumphs. This is the love that flows down from Heaven, through God's children toward others. Agape love is what continues to motivate me to sing, speak and write about the truth of God's redeeming love. It is not dependent upon your faith in me, nor is it dependent upon my own efforts. It is God given and flows even when there is nothing inside of me to offer.  It is what enables a Christian to do as Christ says,

Matthew 5:44 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you."

These impostors in our midsts are not capable of doing these things, because Agape Love does not flow through them. At best, they can mimic what they've seen God's children do. But their "love" is inferior in that it is only offered to establish or save their reputations and it is done in their own strength and for their own purposes. God's love is never selfish or self motivated.

I would encourage all of God's children to do as God says,

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

Do not give yourself over to bitterness, and do not hold condemnation for anyone. Neither give credence to a false gospel nor a false form of godliness that lacks the power of God. You are not a better person for it. Looking the other way when someone is doing the wrong thing does not equate with "loving your neighbor as yourself". It is not only destructive for the church to look the other way, but it will only lend itself to the destruction of the unity of the Body of Christ. Whether on line, in your church, at the coffee shop or any other place, if there is hatefulness or a false representation of the gospel being given, call it out and speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect, but stand firm.

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