Love Is Not A Solution. Accountability Is.
Scrolling through my twitter feed this weekend, I began to realize something that really troubles me. Most Christians have LOST it. They have officially lost touch with what it really means to follow Christ. They spend so much of their time on social media trying to shout about how much they love everyone. They tweet things about how only love trumps hate, or there is no room for hatred in the Kingdom of God. Those things are fine, but they are not a solution. They are platitudes.
When churches only focus on love, they neglect the other aspects of our faith. When we present Jesus as ONLY about love, we are only giving half the story. Yes, the story of Jesus is a story about love. Yes, Jesus wants us to love everyone. But there is so much more to it than that. The Bible is not Golden Coral. You can’t fill your plate with only the things you like or just the things that make you feel like a better person. If your church is preaching about love but is neglecting to preach about self-control, sacrifice or honor, you aren’t giving your community an accurate representation of what it means to be a Christ follower.
Our behavior matters to Jesus. He does not accept or ‘include’ all behaviors. Our decisions and actions have consequences. As Christianity and church attendance continues to be on the decline, the majority of prognosticators spend their time talking about worship style and the appropriate amount of haze churches should use when the real issue is that the majority of churches stand for almost nothing. We have painted a picture that Jesus was only about love and compassion and therefore our actions and decisions have become almost meaningless. We teach people that Jesus is love and will forgive our past and future mistakes. That is good, but if we stop there, it allows people to believe that Jesus never expects us to change or get better.
As the world continues to head down the crazy path, there is only one thing that can turn it around. And, surprise surprise, it’s NOT more love.
Imagine for just a moment that churches, pastors, and leaders started holding people personally responsible for their actions. They didn’t allow their followers to constantly point the finger at someone else. What if we taught, preached and lived like every choice we made mattered. What if instead of blaming the current president for every bad thing that happens we actually held the individual responsible for what THEY do and say? Isn’t that what God does for us and isn’t that really the essence of the Gospel. Yes, it relies on love and Grace from the Father, but it doesn’t stop there. That is only half the equation.
One of my favorite Bible stories is found in John 8. It’s the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman. I love this story because I believe it shows the WHOLE picture of what it means to follow Christ. He didn’t choose to condemn her like the Pharisees, He didn’t shout her down in the streets. And yes, Jesus showed love and compassion toward this woman, but he didn’t just leave it at that. In verses 10-11 he said this…
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
You see that? He doesn’t condemn her, but he also tells her to “Go and sin no more.” That’s no small thing. It means there are 2 parts to really following Him. It’s not just Love that conquers all. It’s love + accountability that truly brings about change.
My prayer is that churches stop hiding behind love, the government, and so called social justice. If we as church leaders vowed to stand up and keep our faith communities accountable we might really start to make a difference. Shouting about how much we love and accept people accomplishes very little. It’s helping people truly change and become more like Jesus that will make the biggest impact. Don’t be a dummy and starting shouting “shame to sinners” on the streets of your town, but also don’t get so caught up in the ‘love everything revolution’ that you forget the other part of the equation.
The only way to change things is not simply loving everything, it’s keeping people accountable for their actions. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, PERSONAL accountability is the only thing that can even begin to change this messed up world. If you’re a pastor or community leader, it’s up to you to make a difference. Be BOLD and unafraid when it comes to teaching people how to live. Only giving half the story is hurting more than it’s helping.