Throughout history there have been various movements and thoughts in Christian circles that began to be accepted but were eventually proven to be unbiblical. At times, it has become popular to explain away hell. We have also been told that we have to focus on loving ourselves first so we can love others (Jesus and Paul assume that we love ourselves and ask us to love others that way). We have been told that, if we trust God enough and follow Him closely, we will be rich and healthy. Lately, we are seeing more and more Christians drawn into re-explanations of what the Bible says on sexuality, abortion and other hot topics. Why is that? How can believers that love Jesus and see the Bible as their authority be so easily convinced that the Bible doesn’t actually say what it clearly says?
There could be a lot of answers to that question. But I believe the #1 answer is - Because we love and care deeply about people. That’s a good motivation. It’s hard to be a Christian and not be concerned about people and want what’s best for them. It’s hard to be a Christian and be disagreeable. It’s hard to be a Christian and do anything that would get you labeled as a hater, because we want to be loving to all people. If a person claims to be a Christian and enjoys telling others they are wrong, and relishes being called a hater, and loves telling people that their way of life leads to eternal separation from God, I would argue that person has a problem. In Jesus’ time, those people were called Pharisees, and Jesus didn’t seem to feel that they were truly walking with God.
Our culture has structured public debate in such a way that, if you disagree with the current narrative, you are a hater, a bigot and evil. How people feel is elevated beyond what is real and true. Because of that, Christians are made to feel as if we are doing real damage to people by stating something biblical that might make someone else feel “judged,” or “attacked,” or “hated.” In that environment, many Christians, who do not have a deep understanding of Scripture, are relieved if they can find anyone claiming to be a teacher or preacher that will explain away the counter-cultural stances of the Bible. “Oh good, even if a person dies without Jesus, they get more chances! In the end, love wins!” “That preacher explained what Paul really meant in Romans 1, so now I can tell my friend that following Jesus won’t require them to change their behavior.” “The Bible calls us to support life from womb to tomb, so until we do that, abortion is the most loving thing.” It’s like these false teachers are giving Christians a “get out of tense conversations free” card. We don’t want to come across as disagreeable or hateful, so these explanations are the perfect out.
In most cases “love” is stated as the driving force behind these positions. “How can we claim to be loving and take that position?” The problem is that love is not defined in the way the Bible would define it. The Bible shows us that it is loving to take sin seriously. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” We all know the instructions that are given in Matthew 18 for restoring a brother or sister that is in sin. Redefining love without telling the truth about sin is actually about the most unloving thing you can do. Why? Because if I tell you that something is not wrong that God says is wrong, you will have no compulsion to pursue God’s plan for redemption and reconciliation. In other words, if all sins can be explained away, we have no reason to surrender our lives to Jesus. There is nothing to save us from.
This is why John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus came to extend grace. Thank you God for that! We are broken, sinful people that need God’s grace. But that grace has to be rooted in truth. When we say that God extended grace to us, we don’t mean that He just excused all our sin. We mean that He chose to deal with our sin Himself because there was no way we could overcome it or pay the penalty for it. Offering a “grace” that is not rooted in truth is empty at best and dangerous at worst.
Christians should be the most grace-filled people in the world. We acknowledge that we are all just sinners that found a Savior. We are all just beggars telling other beggars where we found bread. However, we also need to know what the Bible truly says about important issues. We cannot take our interpretations from the world or people who do not take the Bible seriously. There is a reason that these “new” interpretations are new. There is a reason centuries of theologians that believe in the inspiration of Scripture have not seen it that way. But we don’t hold biblical positions so we can be “righter” than others or to argue with others. We don’t hold those positions so we can tell other people what to do. We hold those positions so that when someone we have cared for and connected with has sincere questions we can tell them the truth and show them that Jesus is so much better! It will be through grace and truth that we will see true transformation in our world.