I still remember the day very clearly. We were so convinced for our cause. Standing down the road from Chattanooga’s only operable abortion clinic we linked hands in silent protest against the practice of abortion. We were part of the Life Chain and our witness was there to show people that we cared about the loss of potential life that was taking place right down the road. I actually participated in several events in protest during my adolescence. It was part of what it meant to be an evangelical Christian and is still a defining characteristic for many evangelicals today. But I’m not sure that it’s for the best.
As Jesus is preparing to leave his disciples in the gospel of John he leaves them with this simple message. Love one another. By this will all men know that you are mine. (John 13) Jesus never said to dictate the morals of others. He never said to legislate the nation state in which you live to reflect your values. He never even said to protest or pray publicly to influence those around you in order to manifest a political change (quite the opposite in one particular parable about a tax collector and Pharisee). He simply said to love one another.
The saying in the picture above was something I came across today and was blown away by. There’s no hate quite like Christian love. Talk about a punch in the gut. And we all assume that hate is the opposite of love…but that’s not really the case. The opposite of love, if I’m being honest, is control. It’s the original fall from grace in the garden. Our desire to control ourselves, one another, nature, God was the breaking of divine love. We took love, a concept where we want the best for those around us and turned it into a concept where we force those around us to be what we want. And most of the time that desire is mutilated by our misunderstanding of who they are or who we think God has called them to be.
I think about this with my own kids all the time. There are molds or patterns that I could force them to follow or fall into but is that really love? Sure, I will model who I believe is best for them in light of culture, society, faith and reason, but forcing them into any of that is dishonoring their personhood and the Imago Dei as it is breathed into each of them. I think about this with my wife. Are there times that it might be easier to try to control or manipulate her into who I believe God has called her to be? Not really. At the end of the day I really don’t know the full complexity of who God is calling her to be and once again that’s control, not love.
And this is where the church today in America is totally screwing up. We think that by forcing our beliefs on those around us that we will somehow transform society into the Kingdom of God reflecting his Image. Instead we find ourselves met with sayings like the one above, “There is no hate quite like Christian love”. So do they know we belong to Jesus at all? Probably not. Otherwise you wouldn’t see signs like this at political rallies. Instead we are once again reflecting the fall in Eden and having the mirror held up to our ugly need to control instead of love.