First John 4:7 states: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” The Bible commands us to love others. Jesus even declares that the second greatest command is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). But what does it actually mean to love one another as Christ wants us to?
Christianity in this day and age is in danger of embracing a postmodernist approach to love. What exactly is postmodernism and why is it an issue for the Christian church? The Canadian Center for Science and Education defines postmodernism as a system of thought that “emphasizes pluralism and relativism and rejects any certain belief and absolute value.” Under the postmodernist view, everyone is correct and no one is wrong. However, the ideology of postmodernism distorts a biblical understanding of love and truth. Loving your neighbor has become about immediately affirming the personal truth of each individual. While it is beneficial and good to value people as they are, embracing individual lifestyles and identities is not necessarily showing love.
As Christians we need to show others, wherever they are at, that they are valued and made in God’s image. However, we are not actually loving people in a Christ-like manner if we embrace their sin. The way to show Christ-like love is to lead others towards biblical truth, rather than supporting their “truth.” One may argue that God is love and we need to support others’ beliefs in order to fulfill our duty as a loving Christian. However, this is tainting what actual godly love looks like. Love is not becoming more accepting for the sake of becoming less offensive. Postmodernism would have almost every belief accepted in this way, but equating ‘love’ with mere acceptance changes how one views God.
The greatest example of God’s love is demonstrated through the sacrifice of His son. He sacrificed His Son for our sins while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God created a way for us to be reconciled to Him from the sin that separates us. Our Father loves us, but He doesn’t accept or encourage us to stay in our sin, rather He calls us to become holy and pleasing (Romans 12:1). We are to throw off every sin that entangles us (Hebrews 12:1).
1 John 4:9-11 – This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
We’re supposed to stand out and be different from the ways of the world, not accept sin in fear of offending others. As Christians, we should be much more fearful of disobeying God. We are called to be countercultural and not fall into the patterns of this world.
Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We cannot create our own definition of love and then equate that to God’s character; if we do, we worship our own twisted version of love instead of the God, who is love (1 John 4:8).
First Corinthians 13 defines love and summarizes God’s character:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (emphasis mine)
When we truly love others, we cannot delight in or accept sin. Rather, we rejoice in guiding them towards the truth.
Forghani, Nooshin, et al. A Critical Examination of Postmodernism Based on Religious and Moral Values Education. Canadian Center of Science and Education, 26 Aug. 2015, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1074075.pdf.
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