Truth and Love

Call it a soapbox, a pet peeve, nit picky, grasping at straws, merely semantic or too staunch, but I need to get something off of my chest. TRUTH AND LOVE ARE NOT WORKING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. There I said it. So what? No one is disagreeing with me right? Well, maybe not in word, but there seems to be an overarching attitude in many churches today that tells me otherwise. You may or may not know what I am talking about but hold on. Ever heard the phrase bantered about by Pastors, or Church leaders that goes something like this: “What the Church needs is a good balance of truth and love”: as if to say that at one side of the see-saw you have truth, and at the other side of the see-saw you have love, and the fulcrum on which they hinge is the church, and it is our job as members and leaders of that church to “keep everything in balance” or not “go too far either way.” In other words, preach enough doctrine so as to not be accused of being shallow, but don’t stress doctrinal importance too strongly, lest we come across as the “frozen chosen.”

We are given the imagery of the overall health and advancement of the church as being dependent on how well we are able to give just enough strong theology (truth) as to be at least minimally faithful to the Scriptures, but not too much theology as to be unattractive or distasteful, because that may come across to some as unloving. This drives me crazy! Why? Because the apostle Paul makes it so clear that our unity in love finds its source in doctrine! The basis for our loving one another and our “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is to understand the doctrines of “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” What I am trying to say is theology is the basis for love. These things do not need to be balanced. They are working together, not against one another. The church is the one institution on the earth that can experience true love because the love between its members is not derived from shallow sources like similar taste in clothing, food, the opposite sex, vocation, athletics or anything of the like. Rather, Christian love is founded on objective truth and theology so that people who have nothing in common on an earthly level find commonality and unity in believing the same things together!

In fact, if I may be so bold as to say it, it is impossible to truly love someone without theology. The most loving thing anyone can do for another is to tell them the truth. Why is it that we do not accuse physicians of being unloving when they give to us the terrible diagnosis of our physical condition? Because the only way to be healed is to hear of our disease. Yet, churches which proclaim sound theology about the sovereign and holy character of God and the sinful and miserable estate of man are accused of being unloving and harsh.

Christ commissioned his ministers to deliver the whole counsel of God. Are they to do it humbly and lovingly, with fear and trembling? Absolutely, but that does not mean that they are to omit one single word of truth for the sake of being loving. History has proven that the most philanthropic and evangelistic warriors in the kingdom of Christ have been highly trained and precise theologians who boldly proclaimed the whole counsel of God. Does the name Paul ring a bell? This man, known as the greatest Christian missionary of all time, declared to the Ephesian elders that he did not cease night and day to teach with humility and tears the whole counsel of God. See the connection there? Humility and tears, but those tears of love motivated him to declare the whole counsel of God, not to move around it only preaching what seemed “loving.”

May God help us all to understand that what we need is not to try to “balance” truth with love, but rather to truly express love by telling the truth. Love only grows in the soil of truth. It is the height of hypocrisy to claim to love someone, and then to withhold from them the very thing that they need the most, namely the truth. These words resonate in my mind, even now as I write: “Let love be without hypocrisy; abhor that which is evil and cling to that which is good.”

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