Our culture linked love with total acceptance, that is we should love a person just the way they are. If we love someone, we should not impose values, expectations, or beliefs on that person. Therefore, when Christianity talks about sin, and emphasizes that Jesus is the only way to God, and that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), we have the impression that Christianity is not loving.
The problem with equating love with total acceptance is twofold:
- Love is defined by human beings and the meaning of love becomes subjective.
- The impact of sin is underestimated as if human beings are okay in our sinful state.
1 John 4:7-21 is one of the texts in the New Testament that explains God’s love the best. This passage shows us several truths regarding love.
- Love originates from God.
- Human beings do not define what love is, but God does. We cannot love without God because our capacity to love comes from God.
- True acceptance is found in the sacrificial love of God.
- Love is not accepting people just the way we are. Our self-centered sinful nature becomes an obstacle for us to live the best life possible and to build a truly diverse and inclusive community. God saves us from our sinful state by sending his son to die for us on the cross while we were still sinners. Jesus’s dying on the cross is truly inclusive, because everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, education has a chance to be saved. True acceptance is obtained with a cost, Jesus paid for that cost with his life.
- Love is more than acceptance, but a community that loves one another and perfected God’s love.
- Those who love have been born of God, and God will transform us from our sinful nature into the image of Jesus, so that we can love sacrificially and are able to build a community that is truly accepting, loving while growing towards holiness.