I was watching a segment from a very popular talk show about a very hot-button issue. I knew the guest was going to get skewered by the hosts because his views are consistent with Scripture but inconsistent with the social agenda of today’s mainstream media. What disturbed me about this interview were the personal attacks on this believer and the subtle attack on Scripture.
The personal attack came in the classic argument of, “God say’s love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mk. 12:31). And this is absolutely true. The question is, what does love look like and more importantly God’s love?
Because Scripture depicts God as Father (Dt. 32:6; Mt. 6:9) it is a good idea to examine loving thy neighbor as thyself paternally. If a parent was to see her child playing near a hot stove, she would surely warn the child not to ever touch the stove because the hot flame could cause serious injury. It is the parent’s love for her child that compels her to warn her child never to touch the stove. The child can choose to touch the hot stove and suffer the consequences, but the child was warned not to do so by a loving parent.
Similarly, God understands the consequences of sin (Ro. 6:33) and has left us an instruction manual called the Bible to inform us of what actions He approves of and what actions He disapproves of. He did this because He is a loving Father. We can still choose not to obey His instructions, but we must suffer the consequences for disobeying our Father Who warned us out of His love for us (2 Pet. 3:9).
Since I now know that if I touch the stove, I will suffer serious injury, I don’t want my neighbors to burn their hands. So if I say that I love my neighbors, then I have a responsibility to warn them about the dangers of touching a hot stove, just as I would want them to warn me. My neighbors are still free to choose to touch the stove, but I have extended love to them in the form of a warning.
Therefore, if I see my neighbors living a life that results in outcomes far more consequential and eternal than a temporarily-burned hand, am I not obligated to warn them out of love (Ezek. 3:18)? So what my neighbors may perceive as being judgmental, I perceive as an act of love, because I want them to experience the abundant life that is available to them in Christ, as opposed to the eternal damnation that awaits them if they reject Him (Jn. 3:16).
The subtle attack on Scripture was arguments about it being written in a previous epoch and having hundreds of translations. I use the word “subtle” because the individual prefaced her remarks by saying she grew up in the church; in other words, “I’m a Christian too.”
But as I listened to her rebuttal, I perceived it was the Scriptures that were being placed on trial: they are outdated and unreliable. And to take it a step further, if the Scriptures are being placed on trial is not God ultimately being placed on trial, since they are His code of conduct?
What I am getting at is that God is spirit and because He is not visibly present for our society to place on trial, those of us who proclaim the moral truths of Scripture (the messengers) and the Scriptures themselves (the message) stand proxy for God. So when society attacks the messengers and the message, they are actually attacking (i.e., judging) God. To say it a different way, when the world retorts, “Don’t judge me!” they are really saying, who is God to tell us not to touch the hot stove. So the question is, who’s really the one judging?
Rev. Isaac Hayes is the president of Healing of the Soul Ministries. He is also the Assistant Pastor for Strategic Development and Stewardship at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL. You can follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram through his handle @RevIsaacHayes.