The Danger of ‘God Loves You’
“God loves you and is with you no matter what you decide. You can find strength, understanding, and comfort in that love.”
I agree with this statement. The Bible agrees with this statement. God loves us. He is constantly with us – even the prodigal. His love gives us the solid rock to stand on, the understanding that surpasses our own limited knowledge, and comfort in the sovereign and almighty hand of God.
Here’s the problem.
The above quote is taken from the “Pastoral Letter to Patients” from the Clergy Advocacy Board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in “celebration” and “affirmation” of the decision to choose abortion as a means to deal with an unwanted child. Hopefully you have multiple forms of issues with that last sentence. Unfortunately I do not have time to go into all of them. But I want to highlight one.
First, let me be clear. If you are a woman or man who has dealt with an abortion in your past, I wholeheartedly believe God does love you and is still with you. God is a God of restoration and redemption. You likely carry a burden God never intended you to carry. Carry it to the cross and lay it down.
What I am struggling with is the invoking of God’s name and attributes in order to affirm and encourage the killing of unborn children.
Tom Davis, a United Church of Christ minister and past chair of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advocacy Board wrote, “Ultimately the conflict between the opponents of Planned Parenthood and its clergy defenders is a theological one.”
I agree with Mr. Davis that there is a theological rift between those who see today’s holocaust against the unborn as a blessing and those who stand for life.
The difference is great and indeed it is theological. It is a gap so wide it makes the Grand Canyon look like a paper cut.
But something bothers me here. How can our conflict be so great in theology, yet our words be in such accord? If the chasm between us is so wide, then why do our terms overlap? I believe it is because Christians and the church have often been fuzzy in our definitions of words for the sake of not wanting to be kicked against. We want to share our faith, but in a way that can be easily absorbed – regardless of the receiver’s actual understanding.
We value our fear of confrontation over our urgency for truth.
God is love, but that means different things to different people. To simply say, “God loves you” as an evangelism strategy is unfortunately anemic in a society with melting definitions. We must be a people who uplift God’s amazing grace, but we must also be a people who know what God’s love and grace entail.
In today’s society, many equate love with enabling and grace with affirming. However the Bible provides us with a much clearer understanding of what God’s love looks like and how grace is to be received. It shows us that, ultimately, they both meet at a bloody and horrific executioner’s tree.
I’m not against telling people that God loves them. It can be a great thing. But we shouldn’t say it just because it is agreeable. We need to define our terms.
For the disciples who spoke out about the God of love and grace in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, their ultimate end was a martyr’s death. Why? Because they defined their terms. They married words like love, grace and faith to other words like sin, repentance, sacrifice, and death to our fleshly nature.
Jesus and the disciples had the strength to tell the truth about what was wrong, but also about what was right. They wanted to be clear in their message. They were steadfast, unwavering and uncompromising in their determined pursuit not of using agreeable platitudes, but that the person they were addressing understood the full Gospel regardless of what their response might mean for themselves as the speaker.
Christians, we must define our words. The era in which we could skate by in cultural approval under the same vernacular banners as those who disagree with us and the Bible has long past.
It is true, “God loves you and is with you no matter what you decide. You can find strength, understanding, and comfort in that love.”
However, that may look different than the world thinks. Share with them the love of the cross and grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus for those who trust and believe in him in all of life for the rest of life. But in that, talk about repentance. Talk about holiness. Talk about the God who is, not just the god we want to exist for our own sake and convenience.
It may take more than “God loves you.” It may take a cup of coffee, some time invested and pushback against the Gospel message.
It may be difficult for us, but it will be right. It will be true. It will be love.