Summary: What is the difference between Christian Love and the way the world's love? The answer is astonishing
I’ve always loved limericks:
“There once were 2 cats from Kilkenny
Each thought there was one cat too many
They fought and they spit, and they clawed and they bit.
Till instead of two cats… there weren't any.” (Pulpit Helps)
Now that strikes us as funny because we can picture cats doing that. Have you ever heard a couple of cats going at it in the backyard or in the alley? In fact, cats as so well known for this that when two women get in a fight, do know what it’s called? (CATFIGHT)
Cats are cats… and cats act like that. But Christians … would we behave like that? There’s a church in Ohio called the Bethlehem Church of Christ. Their church building was built back around 1840 and in their history book (from the time of the Civil War) you could read this: “We had fighting right here at home. The Democrats and Republicans were so bitter against one another, it broke the church up.” On the same page in the booklet we’re told of a fistfight that took place on church property: “Two of our best men fought to a finish. One wanted to know if the other had enough. He said he had, so he let him up.” (Tom Claibourne, Restoration Herald. Sept. 07)
Unlike the two cats from Kilkenny… that’s not nearly as funny. And why isn’t it funny? Because Christians aren’t supposed to behave like that. Christians are supposed to be people of love and peace. But too often Christians aren’t. They aren’t always loving and peaceful. According to Barna Research, 47% of Americans have not returned to church (or intend to return to church) after COVID. An estimated 25% of American churches will shut down by the end of 2022.
The reason? I would say that is because many Christians do not take to heart the teaching of Jesus here in his Sermon on the Mount (or much of the teaching of the Bible, period.
27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. 37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Luke 6:27–42 ESV)
I was originally intending to expound this passage for 3 weeks. But for the sake of time and so I can at least close out this chapter, I am summarizing it for you today. I encourage you to look deeply on your own.
I once had a mentor remind me that the church is not a democracy, it is a theocracy. That means that how a church or a pastor is not based on popularity, mob rule, or cultural norms of the day. It is based on biblical principles and guidance.