At this point, if you've been following along all week, you might be thinking that this is a far departure from the type of thing I normally write. It is. You might be thinking how harsh it sounds to be so firm in my conclusion that not all gods are the same. It probably does. You might be thinking that it's even harsher to accuse Christians, who are just trying to get it right, of being good only at the very thing that the pagans have always been good at. It is. But there's nothing wrong with harshing a few mellows every now and then.
You might also be thinking that perhaps what I'm actually suggesting is that we go back to being a church that preaches fire and brimstone. Go back to Bible-thumping. Go back to hanging Hell over people's heads until they get that they've got nothing if they don't got God.
What I am suggesting is that these fundamental truths about the very nature of our God ought to guide us to do better the thing that we seek to do. Specifically, we've got to start loving people like they're lost.
That's all, really. It's not popular. It's not what Christians today think that people need. We want to be known for our tolerance, for our open arms and for welcoming in all the people who disagree with us. We want to be known for not ruffling any feathers, for not demanding things be our way or the highway (to Hell), for letting people just be themselves for once without having God and the Bible shoved down their throats. We want to be known for loving people without ulterior motives, without evangelism lurking in the background, without having to always make that awkward transition between 'hey, man, great barbecue' and 'can I tell you about Jesus?'
But perhaps that's why Christianity is suffering so much in our modern world. Because God never said they would know us by our tolerance.
He said that they would know us by our love. And our love is failing our world.
Our love is failing our world because it doesn't speak truth any more. It's afraid to. It's afraid to look at the fallen world and declare that things are the way they are. People are hurting. People are scared. People are wondering and wandering and wounded and lost. And somehow, we've come to the conclusion that the best thing we can do for them, as an act of mercy and grace, is to not tell them about Jesus. To stop talking about God. Because, you know, they'll probably figure things out for themselves if we just give them time.
What kind of love is that?
What kind of love looks at the hurting and doesn't tell them about a Healer? What kind of love looks at the fearful and doesn't tell them about the spirit of Peace? What kind of love looks at the wondering and doesn't show them the Answer, looks at the wandering and doesn't show them the Way, looks at the wounded and doesn't show them the scars of Calvary, looks at the lost and doesn't help them be found? This thing we're doing where we don't think the answer is Jesus any more is no kind of love at all.
It's no wonder the world doesn't know us.
It's no wonder the world doesn't know Him.
And no, it's not about fire and brimstone. It's not even about Heaven and Hell. It's about the fundamental reality that our God is the only one who sufficiently answers these questions. It's about us taking our God at His word and knowing that faith is the foundation of all of these things. God doesn't just heal because you're a human and He has to; He heals because you are His child and He loves you. If we can't wrap our minds around the fact that what God requires most of us is faith, then none of the rest of it matters. And if His greatest promise - Heaven - even fails to require faith, if we all just go there because we're "good" and "not murderers," then none of the rest of it matters. If our God is just the same as all the other gods out there, then none of the rest of it matters. If all roads lead to same place, then none of the rest of it matters.
But it matters. Because none of these things are true. Our God requires faith, more than anything else He requires of us. Our God has promised Heaven on the basis of our faith. (Not on the works of it, mind you, but on the basis of it.) Our God is not just the same as all the other gods out there. All roads don't lead to the same place. Any argument that says otherwise started with the pagans, and they've always been good at this.
But you never hear the pagans talk about hope. Or grace. Or mercy. Or love.
They will know us by our love.
And listen, you don't have to preach it. This world has heard enough of our preaching. You just have to live it. You have to love people well. You have to love them like they're dying. You have to love them like they're lost.
So would you love somebody already? For real, love them?