“In love we must be able to differ from one another. Love creates an atmosphere of tolerance to recognize and respect different, even opposing viewpoints. In love, I have a right to my view, and you to yours, without condemning each other. The love of Christ drives us to bury the hatchet and to join forces, united under the one yoke.”
That, at least, is what is being voiced and decided and written.
But the question is: Is this the truth? Did love reign in the days of the Judges when everyone did what was right in their own eyes? Was it out of love when Jeroboam established altars in Dan and Bethel for the ten-tribes kingdom ?
The question may also be reversed: Was it unloving when Paul and Silas, during their second missionary journey, delivered to the congregations the decrees, set by the apostles and elders, which they were to keep carefully (Acts 16: 4)? Was there no love when Paul was an adversary of Peter because the latter’s actions clearly contradicted God’s will? (Galatians 2:11).
My brother’s keeper
At first glance it seems very loving when people who disagree decide to stay in mutual respect with each other and to rest in that difference. It sounds humble to say: we recognize your view; we kindly ask that you also accept and acknowledge our position in a brotherly manner.
But is this what the Lord expects from his church overall and from believers individually? Paul’s action would certainly not have been loving if he had let his fellow worker and apostle Peter continue in the wrong way. On the contrary, this would be a sign of lovelessness.
Allowing a stumbling brother to stumble further under the banner that above all we must be charitable, bears witness to the decline of office.
The Lord explicitly exhorted the prophet Ezekiel about this: “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman over the house of Israel; if you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them on behalf of Me.”
Here the Lord added a serious warning: “If I say to the wicked one: You will surely die, and you will not warn him and do not speak to warn the wicked for his wicked way to keep him alive the wicked one shall die by his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand!” (Ezekiel 3:17, 18).
Clearly the love of the Lord has its limits. He is a jealous God who watches over His holy name and holy will. Everything that goes against Him and against His will must be fought to the death. This is Love.
Love does not tolerate opposition to God. Love does not tolerate the accommodation of human ideas and the wiping out of God-given norms.
Love becomes a holy intolerance when God and His commands are mocked. Christ’s zeal for the house of God consumed Him when He drove the money changers and the pigeon vendors out of the temple with lashes.
His love was a burning love at that stage. In terms of the contemporary search for peace, as it is rooted in the soil of general humanity, the radical action of Christ in the temple would certainly not be labelled as loving.
True love demanded
Meanwhile it becomes very clear what the Father expects from His children. There is no doubt that love that comes like a flame from heaven (Song of Songs 8: 6), works double-edged. In our broken existence true love has everything to do with an unquenchable zeal for God. It is inextricably linked to an unquenchable zeal against all who hate God.
So, should we in love be able to differ from each other? No! Does love create an atmosphere of tolerance to recognize and respect different, even opposing, viewpoints? No! Am I in love entitled to my point of view and you to yours, without us denouncing each other? No! Does the love of Christ drive us to bury the hatchet and to join forces, united under the one yoke? Yes, if things are worked out to the bone and the honour of the Lord is paramount.
Love for God must bind us together on the basis of the Word. Otherwise it becomes a loveless love, a dangerous game of human benevolence.
(Translated from magazine Truth and Error, an association for Reformed living, South Africa, 25-9-2010 )