By Jeff Gissing, jeffgissing.com.
I was recently informed that the church I serve risks becoming known for what it opposes rather than for what it supports. This is a familiar rhetorical approach in discussions when churches are willing to publicly question or even oppose things that the society, in general, supports. There’s an appeal to the argument because no one wants to be seen as the grumpy fundamentalist church that views itself as “against the world.”
It’s a warning that’s worth heeding and worthy considering seriously.
Yet often those who introduce it have no problem with churches when they oppose the “right things.” In other words the line “becoming known for what you oppose” actually means, “I disapprove of what you oppose and it’s convenient for me to characterize your opposition to it in a negative manner.”
The Bible suggests that opposing what is wrong—hating what is evil--is actually an appropriate expression of the true love that marks the Christian (see Romans 12) in the communion of the church.
What we’re talking about is not arbitrary hatred addressed toward people simply because they are different. Quite the contrary: we are never instructed to hate anyone, rather to love them. We are, however, instructed to hate that which is wrong, or put another way, those actions that are contrary to God’s moral law.
We’re instructed to love what is good—those things that align with God’s character and God’s purposes in the world.
We’re instructed to hate what is evil—those things that are at odds with God’s character and God’s purposes in the world. The church is instructed to stand against what is evil with the same vigor we stand for what is good.