Are Truth and Love the Romeo and Juliet of the Bible?
Excerpts from the blog of Terry L. Craig
and from her Apolgetic book, What Mama Never Told You about the Afterlife
Copyright 2013 & 2014 Used by permission, all rights reserved.
Every single day, we will face those who are working to chip away at the relationship between Christians, Jesus, and the Bible.
Some make it all about hard, cold truth and pound their fists on pulpits emphasizing what worms we all are and how we fall short of the holiness God’s word demands. Really?
Others are up in arms at the first hint of anything that smacks of “the Law,” saying that now “it’s all about love.” Everything is covered in a gooey rush of love. Seriously?
Truth and Love . . . Are They the Romeo and Juliet of the Bible?
Jesus Christ came, lived, and died as a humble servant, refusing to use the limitless power at His disposal to take by force that which wasn’t freely given . . . and yet it is a falsehood to say He had no warnings for people about the condition of their hearts and what they might face after this life if they didn’t change. Right now, many outside of Christianity would say the declarations of the Bible against sin are uninformed, intolerant hate-speech. In a “seeker sensitive” response, some from inside the Church are now saying the New Testament has no hard edges, that now it’s only about “love.”
Are genuine truth and genuine love mutually exclusive? Are they never to meet and live happily ever after?
People form whole organizations dedicated to defending, promoting, and protesting for the cause of others who are perceived to have been “wronged.” But isn’t that admitting that some things are “wrong?” Vast numbers of our population spend hours every week relishing television reality shows and those depicting surprise interventions and confrontations—where judges, counselors, friends and relatives expose the darkest sides of others in full view of the whole world—and yet many of these same TV viewers think that the God who loves them more than His own life has no right or desire to be honest with them about what’s killing them. *
THE HIGHEST STANDARD: LOVE
Read at weddings, preached in sermons, 1 Corinthians 13, known as the “love chapter” of the Bible, is considered by many to be the gold standard in defining what God’s love is. And, truly, if anyone reads it with an honest heart, it’s quite humbling. Few, if any, could ever say they’ve consistently met this standard in dealing with others. Here is the famous passage in the New Living Translation:
1 Corinthians 13
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (NLT)
Did you see the line, “It [love] does NOT rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the TRUTH wins out”? Is it just me, or does anyone else find it odd that in the middle of a statement about the highest form of love . . . are words about rejoicing when “TRUTH wins”? But what if, in order for truth to win, there needed to be justice? What if someone had to experience hurt or abandon a desired pathway right here on earth? Would it be right to ask for such a scenario? Could love rejoice in someone’s loss?
How about, “It does not demand its own way”? And, “love isn’t proud”? Give up our pride? UGH! Could anything be more contrary to human nature? It is a mystery . . . but in Christ truth and love can meet together.
Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Psalm 85:10, NLT
Those who claim to love through lies or enabling are showing false love.
Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” John 18:37, NLT [Emphasis added by me]
“For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.” [About the Lord] Job 5:18, NIV
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18, NIV
Some will speak of God’s love as mere do-good philanthropy. But I ask: Is this all that the love of God calls us to?
If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3, NIV
This verse compares mere philanthropy (and/or showy acts of kindness) to God’s complete love of others. In God’s love there is no falsehood or pretense. For Christians, it’s about loving God first, then letting His love flow through us to others in a way that doesn’t make them comfortable with something that grieves His heart.
There’s no real love if there is no room for genuineness, accountability, or honesty. Love that enables others in something that may rob them of eternal life isn’t real love! Jesus is the embodiment of love and truth, met together in perfection. The same love that moved Jesus to give up everything for you is also the love that will never lie to you. The same love that moved Jesus to save the woman caught in adultery from being stoned to death also moved Him to tell her, "Go, and sin no more." (John 8:1-11)
If you would know Jesus, you must allow yourself to embrace all that He is. Those who are unwilling to know His truth are, in essence, refusing to truly know Jesus.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” [Jesus speaking] John 3:19, NIV
Behold, happy is the man whom God reproves; therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he smites, but his hands heal. Job 5:17-18, RSV
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6, KJV
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, NIV
But those who only want to dole out harsh “truth” (about how you will never measure up) are not sharing Christ.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” [Jesus speaking] John 3:16-18 The Message (MSG)
“You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” [Jesus speaking to the Pharisees] John 5:39-40, RSV
You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. 1 Peter 10:22, NLT
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” [Jesus speaking] Luke 19:10 NIV
I didn’t become a Christian until I was an adult and I can tell you I didn’t need anybody to tell me I was a “dirty, rotten sinner.” In my heart, I knew that already! What I needed was someone to love me enough to show me the way of escape. The result of choosing just love OR truth (one at the expense of the other) is a ministry that falls short of the call of God, it is a light under a basket. The Body of Christ needs to find compassionate ways to declare truth and genuine ways to demonstrate love.
. . . speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15, NLT
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. Proverbs 16:6, KJV
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Psalm 85:10
Let not loving-kindness and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck, write them upon the tablet of thy heart. Proverbs 3:3, DARBY Translation
No Christian is called to be all about truth and no love. By the same token, no Christian is given the mandate or the right to dismiss a warning from God in order to keep from offending others.
Every single day, we face those who are working to chip away at the relationship between Christians, Jesus, and the Bible. In most cases, those with the chisels either cannot face the judgment they fear the truth will bring upon them, OR they are unwilling to see the mercy that God’s love will bring to others. When the Church walks in an imbalance (of love with slippery truth OR in a pounding truth without showing God’s unfeigned love) we abet the world in believing a lie. It’s not just about their salvation—it’s also about our journey with God.
* This article contains excerpts from the book What Mama Never Told You About the Afterlife, copyright 2013 Terry L. Craig, and from her blog . All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Bible versions used:
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (by The Lockman Foundation)
Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Darby Translation (DARBY) by Public Domain
King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain