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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Jesus: Love & Hate

Recently, my attention was drawn by the LOVE/HATE format on an NFL program. Once again, I was struck by yet another instance of an attempt to bring together these two seemingly disparate opposites of good and evil even if it was in a sports program. Granted, that the sports program talk was detached (how ironic; it’s a violent contact sport) from any violence, but the semblance of love and hate in the broader context of culture is, arguably, just as detached from reality. It looks and sounds like what is of faith just enough to deceive those disciples who succumb to it.


the scope of this article


I have chosen as the scope of this article, lest anyone should cry foul, to place the burden of the oft heard claims and charges of love and hate in this article, actual or perceived, not on nonbelievers, but on my brothers and sisters in Christ. It's not because there is any truth or accuracy in those claims or those charges. Rather, it is because we who have believed in Jesus have grappled with, understood and accepted love and hate as spoken by Jesus - even if we sometimes forget the meaning and significance of those words. The perceptions and displays of love and hate by the saints in Christ for or against homosexuals and homosexuality is an opportunity to explore and challenge our understanding of love and hate.


the source of those perceptions


Regardless of how few or how many make up that group of brothers and sisters in the body of believers in the church who either accept, condone or practice homosexuality there is a need to understand the source of those perceptions and influences. Just what is the semblance of love and hate which has led them to that point? It requires something more than the manner of the world to let fly claims and charges flippantly. It is important to keep in mind that it is this group, my brothers and sisters of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, which makes up the content and context of this article. So, there will be no further need to repeat this clarification.

The ignorance and acceptance concerning homosexuality by the saints in Christ follows from the equally ignorant and mistaken understanding of love and hate from the scriptures. It is a direct influence of culture on the saints while simultaneously claiming to be disciples of Jesus. There is hardly, in the crossfire of those claims and charges, any more understanding than truth that one loves Jesus or that one hates homosexuals. Those who rail at others with their hate are as ugly and mistaken as those who deceptively shower with love others. Such seeming demonstrations of love are at the expense of a compromise. They represent a corruption of those things, namely the word of God; the scriptures, which they do know and do understand with respect to love and hate as revealed by Jesus and Paul.


love and hate in Jesus’ speech


Certainly, the New Testament writers did not dismiss, conceal or otherwise soften these words as spoken by Jesus into something other than what he intended. He spoke openly and candidly of love and hate; two words often peddled, stretched and distorted to the limit in the form of claims, charges and accusations, today.


What Jesus conveyed, with these words, was a discomforting concept with the intended single purpose, namely, to cause the would-be disciple, -alone and no one else-, to ponder for himself/herself what and who he/she loves more and hates less.
These two passages from Luke and Matthew relate the words on the call of Jesus for the would-be disciple, that is, a follower of Jesus, and what it costs to follow after Jesus.
“Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. 35  For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36  A man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me. 38  He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me. 39  He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.  The gospel according to Matthew 20


25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. The gospel according to Luke, chapter 14
disciples succumb to the source
The tension in the words love and hate was captured by the NT writers, not as contradictions as some are quick to charge, but as a way of viewing and understanding the concept and meaning of discipleship in Jesus.


Neither, were these words spoken by Jesus to his disciples to elicit or incite animosity, disdain, hatred or violence on anyone in the faith that is in Christ Jesus or anyone outside of the love, grace and fellowship of the faithful in Jesus. (A disciple is a follower of Jesus.)
Today, love and hate are just another kernel pressed and mashed for mass consumption by culture in America as what is politically correct; as though love and hate were polemically and diametrically opposed to each other; nothing at all as Jesus spoke and meant those words. The politically correct claim (and an expectation to be heeded) is that the person who loves accepts, embraces and tolerates without question; this, as a show of diversity through unity. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.

There is no room for tolerance for personal convictions in culture. Conversely, the politically incorrect person who hates is that person who so much as says or does anything much less think of anything contrary to what has been established by culture. Culture does not have nor does it need the status or authority of legal or religious belief systems or government agencies to exert its conventions or its force. The semblance of politically correct claims for those without discernment may sound and look very much like those of faith and law systems, but these are far from being the same. Really, the fact that disciples succumb to culture is nothing more than peer pressure, called bullying in some contexts, and the human need to belong (and the fear of standing alone) by which culture gains and holds sway over society, one individual on one individual, at a time.
a semblance of law and faith


What does the use of these two seemingly different and disparate terms reveal about the embrace or rejection of homosexuality by the saints in Christ?


Simply, that it is what a person loves more and what a person hates less. It is that a person will choose what he/she loves over what he/she does not love. It is that a person will choose what he/she hates less over what he/she hates more.


The biblical use of these words reflects the crucible to which the would-be disciple is called. He is to settle the question of following Jesus in his mind along with his/her decision and determination of heart, mind, soul and strength to commit their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior. There is no semblance of delusions about the road ahead. There are no dilutions (that is, a watering down of bible-founded convictions) of a culturally strained faith of appeasement. There is no semblance of any rigors of law to force the disciple, only the focused, clear resolve to commit their lives in obedience to the one whose death and resurrection which once confounded them has now convicted them of its significance and meaning for their life.


There is no semblance of love, because it is love. There is no semblance of hate, because it is hate. Effectively, these words represent the proverbial glass half full, glass half empty, that is, seeing and stating the same thing from a different perspectives. When Jesus cast father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters in the context of hate it was because he was just as willing to reveal himself and place himself in the position of one who is hated - LESS or loved MORE than family.


Some saints might feign offense and shirk at the idea of hating Jesus, but this is quite familiar for the disciple who has understood the call of Jesus to be crucified with Christ and take up his cross and follow Jesus.


There is nothing about the crucifixion or being crucified that is endearing or which evokes warm cuddles. It is with this understanding that the disciple acknowledges frankly that he HATES Jesus even as that disciple is drawn to Him because the disciple HATES his own LIFE EVEN MORE. His/her determination to follow Jesus is an act of HATE, that is, a move away* from family in order to be a disciple of Jesus. There is no more joy for the disciple in being crucified with Christ than there was joy for Jesus in being crucified. However, the writer noted this about Jesus in Hebrews 12:2, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross. Joy is what awaited Jesus. It is what awaits the disciple just the other side of crucifixion. Again, this is not some delusion about all things being rosy, but joy in the scriptures is forever associated with the extraordinary and it is so aptly captured in the speechless response of the disciples when they saw the resurrected Jesus:


While they still didn’t believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat? (Luke 24:41)


Understanding their state of shock Jesus drew the disciples to the simple, mundane act of having some breakfast on the shores of Galilee. How vastly different the need for rants and chants to shock the unwary into listening, today. These methods reveal that culture is the primary root of influence in that message for or against these charges and judgments on people about love and hate. The charges are not in accordance with law. They are not in accordance with faith. They are definitely not with love and hate as taught by Jesus. One ought not marvel at these methods, because a dead message without life requires the same treatment as a dead person: shock.
The purpose of judgment
Judgment, according to culture, is something to be discarded as primitive and, - hateful or hate-filled. And, in one of those like faith claims of culture it is pointed out Jesus said his disciples were not to judge. Quite true. However, the context (see Matthew 7:1ff) of those words reveals it was an admonition against making hasty or rash judgments.


One instance where Jesus did make a judgment, and which is often overlooked, was when he said to a woman caught in the act of adultery and who was brought to Jesus: Go your way. From now on sin no more. Likewise, the apostle Paul passed judgment on a fornicator (referred to by Paul as a, so-called brother) in the church at Corinth. Paul did so without having met the man, but having been fully apprised of the situation he not only judged the individual, but urged the saints in Christ in Corinth to do likewise.


The distinction of these two judgments which is also mostly overlooked is that they were with the utmost regard for and the intended restoration and salvation of the individuals. These judgments of sin were not unto condemnation nor were they license for a carnal, public spectacle. There was/is nothing spiteful or hateful in those judgments of and by faith against sin made either by Jesus, by Paul or the disciples as taught and and as was demonstrated by Jesus and Paul.


allegations and false fear


Homosexuals and advocates of homosexuality have learned and made use of the label of homophobic to apply it to anyone (I’m confident I was cast in that mold quite a while back at the start of this article) who speaks a word without a full embrace of homosexuality. Compounding that charge of fear is the charge of judgment; both of which are as inaccurate as they are unfortunately sometimes true. The fear and lack of confidence in the saints shows in their inability and unwillingness to make judgments, but the apostle John encourages the saints on the matter of judgment, fear and love with these words:


In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love him, because he first loved us.  If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother. I John 4:17-21


Literally, the label-term homophobic means to fear what is the same. (Interesting to note how some online sources which purport to define the word focus on phobic (fear) and say nothing about the homo (same) part of the word.) Suffice it to say that the use of labels in this manner plays well to foment and stir up the sensibilities (or, the carnal mind, as the apostle Paul described it) of the people, but nothing by way of understanding and enlightenment.


False allegations of fear and hate abound, but this is the influence and way of culture as much on some saints as those outside the body, that is, the church of Christ. The truth is there is nothing to fear or hate about homosexuals or homosexuality any more than any of the other sins enumerated by Paul in I Corinthians 6:9;10. Rather, the ancient admonishment heed is found in Genesis when God said to Cain: Sin is at the door, but you must master it.
a life _ not


If it is true life is stranger than fiction it may be equally true that banner slogans, one-liner retorts and phrases may reflect a good bit (or in any case, a semblance) of truth such as, - get a life. However, dismissing Jesus’ words regarding father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters because one has been orphaned and without siblings is shortsighted, if not evasive. It is a simple truth. The person has their own life, still.


The call from Jesus for those who would follow after him is to lose their life in order that they might find it and attain eternal life.


yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple, said Jesus.


Simply and truthfully and as cleared as Jesus stated it such a person who LOVES their life MORE than Jesus cannot be his disciple. It is that love for their own life which turns and draws them away* from Jesus. Those who HATE Jesus LESS than their meaningless life are those who turn and are drawn to Jesus because they hate their lives MORE than they HATE Jesus. There are no delusions about the horror and spectacle of the crucifixion of the Jesus or the crucifying of self to sin to live no more for self, but to live for Jesus.

A person who HATES Jesus MORE than his family and life it is that hate which turns and draws them away from Jesus. They have chosen to live that life without Jesus. They cannot be his disciple. Any softening and peddling of words and claims and charges of HATE and LOVE or even laying claim to a semblance of what Jesus spoke does not change those words spoken by Jesus.


conclusion


Jesus spoke the words love and hate to impress on people what it means and costs to follow him. These words were never taught or intended to cast animosity, hatred or disdain on anyone in the Lord or outside of the fellowship of the saints who are in Christ Jesus.


Although culture has its own semblance of love and hate these words were never taught by Jesus or the apostles without understanding, knowing and obeying the call of Jesus to follow after him. Government laws, whether they were created out of love, hate or some semblance of righteousness for a country can not and do not speak the righteousness of God as proclaimed and made known by the saints in Christ. The saints in Christ tend to be quick to think they stand and uphold righteousness when they rally behind government laws which ostracize and condemn rather than trust on the Spirit of God who indwells the saints to fill and guide them in all wisdom.


Embracing or rejecting love or hate as a display for all to see is a mere semblance of love and hate as spoken, taught and demonstrated by Jesus and the apostles.


Practice and live what you have understood and do so with conviction. Joy and confidence is found in the saints in Christ who love him more or hate him less than family, possession or, even _ their life. Life, abundant and eternal is in Jesus. peace to all.