Sometimes life would be so much easier if everything was just black and white. It seems to be the grey areas that cause us so much consternation and stress. But being able to function and deal with the grey is what separates us humans made in the image of God from the animals in God’s creation. Even in our journey of faith we encounter those situations where is seems that conflicting biblical principles apply and what the “right” thing to do in God’s eyes is not crystal clear or obvious…it can get a bit grey. I have always had a rule of thumb that I use in those moments: to err on the side of love. It has served me well and I stand by it.
However, the challenging thing about communication is to assume that it has taken place. Or to say it differently, it can be naive to assume that what is meant is what is understood. A case in point is the rule of thumb that I mentioned above. To err on the side of love can mean very different things to different people. So I’ll clarify what I mean. To err on the side of love is to seek to love folks the way God loves people. Clearly the redemptive activity of God in Christ declares beyond a shadow of a doubt that God loves all of us unconditionally, just the way we are. As the scripture says, while we were still God’s enemies Christ came and died for us. But loving us fully just the way we are isn’t all of the love story. God’s accepting love also compelled Him to do everything possible for us to become the people He created us to be: Christ died and rose again so that we can have new life. So if I am to love someone as God does, I need to love them just the way they are, no questions asked, but also remain lovingly committed to them becoming all God intends them to be.
So this rule of thumb compels me as it compels you to love people fully, totally, without reservation no matter what the idiosyncrasies’ of their sin, failures or life habits. But it also propels us to never stop serving, praying, believing and caring until they become Christ-like. And I have no doubt that if the people of Hope Chapel, or any church does that, they can truly be the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth.