As you likely know, i am belligerent when it comes to the topic of love. And yes, i purposely used belligerent. I recognize it has a negative connotation, but if i’m being totally honest: i wish i was even more belligerent about love.
As such, dating relationships, marriage partnerships, same-sex friendships, church brother- and sisterhoods, one’s relationship with God, and all the other various interactions with people throughout the day find counsel in the phrase: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
I realize i combined one’s relationship with God with a list of 5 interpersonal relationships. Here’s why: the phrases “Christianity is about a relationship not a religion” and “God hates religion” leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Allow me to explain using a calendar photo from five days ago:
I hope you have a friend like this. I truly do hope this for you.
I also know that if you do have a friend like this you probably are annoyed by a lot of the pettiness that passes for friendship in our world today: “I have 3,000 friends on Facebook”; “I have 10,000 followers on Instagram”; “My Snapchat story is seen by 400 of my friends everyday.”
If that kinda stuff makes you happy: great!
But if you’re honest with yourself, it doesn’t. You want someone who will be there with you through thick and thin. You want someone who knows you look like trash when you climb out of bed to say you are beautiful. You want someone who knows the grisly details of your past, but can still say, “I love you.”
You want more than the occassional like on your most recent post.
You may already have at least one human who acts in this manner in your life. I hope you do.
But here’s the truth: God is this friend. He will be with you through thick and thin. He knows what you look like every minute of every day of your life–past and present–but He cares more about your heart than your external appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). He knows more about your past than you’d be willing to share with your most intimate friend, but He still sent His Son to die for you.
But how do we respond so much of the time?
“It’s a relationship, not a religion–God hates religion–so I don’t have to work at all.”
Think about your closest friend. Why are you friends?
Think about your significant other. Why are you dating?
Think about your spouse. Why are you married?
It’s because you put time and effort into that relationship. You seek to know the other person and do things that please him/her. If something upsets him, you don’t do it because you don’t want to frustrate him (at least you shouldn’t). If she enjoys and appreciates something, you seek to share it with her.
But in our relationship with God, we too often say, “He died for me, so I’m good. I can do what I want. It’s a relationship not a religion.”
I hope you see the inconsistency there.
I titled this post Love Trumps Religion because a more biblical way to explain Christianity is: “It’s about love, not about religion.” Or in the words of Galatians 5:14, “For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Bible is clear that a true believer’s love for God will express itself in true love for other people: whether believers or not (though primarily believers). Check out the book of 1 John for explicit proof of this fact.
If you truly love God you will be involved in the life of a local church. You will spend time getting to know the people there. You will give of your time, money, and resources to help that local body flourish. You will pour out your heart in prayer for the people there. This is impossible if you sneak into an auditorium after worship starts and sneak out during the pastor’s closing prayer.
Not only this, but love will overflow to everyone you come into contact with. Jesus said the world would know us by our love (John 13:35). If we aren’t involved in a local church, and if we are not out in the world displaying a different type of attitude than the nonbeliever next to us, we are being less than good witnesses. We are not called to be pepper in the world–upsetting peoples’ sinuses–but rather we are to be salt–making Christianity flavorful.
(It should be our vibrant love that makes it flavorful, and not gimmicks and jokes and concerts in our church services that make Christianity flavorful for the world.)
I could go on, but i’ll leave this post here. I’ll likely touch this subject again before too many more weeks go by.
To conclude, Skrillex just started dubstepping his way through my Spotify. While his one liner states, “I want to kill everybody in the world,” we, as Christians, must have this as our mantra: “I’m called to love everybody in the world.” And because loving well is such a ridiculously hard task to accomplish perfectly, i said in the opening paragraph: “i wish i was even more belligerent about love.”
“I’m called to love everybody in the world.”
It’s hard to be belligerent about something you don’t do perfectly.
Let’s thank God for grace, but let’s all strive to live out our Christian claim with the same ferociousness that consumes our interpersonal relationships.
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria