There are many misconceptions about the true meaning of love in the world today. Even in the church there are misconceptions of what love really is. What exactly do the scriptures mean when they exhort us to “love one another”? What does it mean when it says that “God is love”? What do people mean when they challenge fellow believers to love one another? We often hear the cry that we shouldn’t judge, reprove fellow Christian’s, judge anyone’s beliefs or criticize wrong‑doing in the church because that would be unloving. But is this what love is all about or is it just a corrupted form of “sloppy agape” borrowed from the world?
Many Christian’s understanding of love has been finely-tuned by the world more than by the Holy Spirit. It is little more than a Christianized version of the worldly notions of love we grew up with. Many of us were nurtured on a perverted form of worldly love which was nothing more than a self‑indulgent form of narcistic love that embraced the license to do your own thing as long as it didn’t hurt anyone else. The anthem of “All you need is love” was often little more than a hedonistic battle cry “to do your own thing and let others to do theirs.
This corrupted concept of love has morphed itself into the consciousness of contemporary society as well as the consciousness of many in the church today. Love has come to mean acceptance, tolerance, diversity, accommodation, unity, appeasement, cultural correctness and freedom of expression. It is the mantra of many in the contemporary church, church hype and church fads. If you object or set moral or scriptural boundaries, reject a lifestyle of self‑indulgence, challenge deception and false teaching or call sin “sin” you are automatically disqualified as a hater, a racist, a judgmental throwback and a self‑righteous bigot.
The child‑rearing philosophy of today often reflects this worldly view of self‑indulgent love. “Don’t discipline little Jimmy or you will quench his spirit!” “Don’t limit their sense of adventure.” “Never use the “NO” word. “Don’t set boundaries.” “Don’t correct them”, “Don’t deny them”, “Don’t curb their sense of adventure”, “Don’t quench their spirit”. Just Let them have free reign, let them express themselves anyway they want. Enable them, coddle them and give them what they want so they will know the meaning of unconditional love. Then, and only then, will they become all that they were meant to be. How different is this concept of parental love when compared to the love of our heavenly Father: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him: For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives....nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5,6,11)
The prophets and watchmen upon the wall who are challenging the church today are not “haters”. They don’t have a critical spirit; neither are they judgmental, condescending or self‑righteous. They warn the church because they love the church. They are those who truly care enough to speak the truth in love. They are constrained by the Spirit of God to warn God’s people. They share the same heartbeat as God who loves His people so much that he chastens them, reproves them and leads them with a both a rod and a staff.