Christianity is not just loving your neighbor and giving to the poor. That’s the easy part. Anybody can smile and write a check. The real challenge is loving God. That’s the first and greatest commandment and it’s the way in which you love God that will shape the way you love others (Matt 22:37-39; 1 Cor 13:2).
For example, God says that if you love someone, you’re going to be willing to stand between them and a bad decision they’re getting to make (Eph 5:11). In other words, you’re going to try and improve their situation by showing them how their current decision making process is going to lead to a dead end based on, not your opinion or experience, as much as it’s based on God’s take on the matter (Prov 27:6).
So, first of all, you have to be able to accurately determine that their mindset is flawed – that’s going to require a familiarity with God’s Perspective as to whether or not their approach is wrong (2 Tim 2:15). And knowing God’s Word is part of loving God (Josh 1:8; Jn 14:21; 2 Tim 3:16-17).
Secondly, you can’t just tell someone they’re wrong. You want to be wise in the way you phrase things so they can see the advantages represented by godly behavior (Prov 25:11). Otherwise, it can come across as a self serving / judgmental confrontation that can make a bad situation even worse (Matt 7:1; Jn 7:24).
Knowing how to say something and when to say it requires a willingness to take your cue from God rather than simply blurting out something that satisfies your particular set of criteria (Lk 12:12). Again, that flows from being committed to God and not just your sense of convention.
Yet, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how you say it. You can be reeking of God’s Manner, Motive and Mindset and still have to contend with a negative response (Lk 9:5).
But here’s the thing…
You don’t refuse to run the ball down the field and put some points on the board just because you’re afraid of getting tackled. And you’re not “loving” someone when you have the opportunity to help them avoid the inevitable consequences of driving on the wrong side of the road and you say nothing (Ez 3:18).
That’s not love.
That’s a combination of cowardice and neglect and no matter how you want to position it either as a “Christian” or a “loving” response, you’re contributing to their demise. And if you’re doing that, “in the Name of Christ,” you’re casting God as Someone Who’s indifferent to rebellion and the pain that goes along with it which is not only misleading, it’s toxic (Jer 23:16).
So, be careful when you’re hearing someone attempt to reduce God and the command to be like Christ to a situation where you’re like a firefighter who yells encouraging words to those inside a burning house, yet makes no attempt to put out the blaze.
In that moment, you might be nice, but you’re not Christ. And you have to be more than “nice.”
That’s what “love” is when you refuse to help the one you care about by telling them that what they’re doing is wrong – be it a situation where they’re oblivious to what they’re doing or they’re fully aware of they’re being off target and they’re just not considering the consequences.
That’s not love. That’s not being like Jesus, it certainly doesn’t happen when you’re loving and obeying God as you should…
…and that’s not Christianity.