August 7, 2012 - What Kind of Love Is That?
By Jerry D. Scott
The Bible has a story about a man who was called “a man after God’s own heart,” who was capable of stealing a trusted friend’s wife, plotting his murder, and trying to keep it quiet. This same man penned many of the most beautiful songs of Scripture, including the one that opens with the phrase, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
Was David a saint or a rogue? Both! His sins were spectacular; his repentance, heartfelt. Many of us would likely refuse to be a friend with David if he attended our church or lived in our neighborhood. We probably would say, “Why doesn’t he pull his act together?”
Life and the people living it are incredibly complex, and that is why Jesus urges us to demonstrate deep love that the Bible says “covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV). We are not being told to sweep it all under the rug! We live a life of patient love that allows grace to mature. We are to be full of a love that “is not easily angered … keeps no record of wrongs. … [Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:5-7, NIV).
Some churches choose to create a culture of superficial “holiness.” It creates a framework for life that is simple enough to understand: Do this, don’t do that. It emphasizes stark black and white. It makes clear who is “in” and who is “out.” It tolerates no ambiguity of human nature. A first glance finds a church like that neat and tidy, no messed-up people to deal with, no struggles apparent. But all is not what it seems. Life refuses our quick fixes. People are not healed with formulas of behavior.
I am not excusing sin or justifying hypocrisy. I simply want to remind myself and you that it is a fool’s game to think people are simple to understand or that everything can be explained in simple terms. Some think the world would be easier to navigate if life were starkly black and white, no shades of gray. There would be good people and bad people, right choices and wrong ones. Doing good things would always bring good in return, and nice guys would really finish first.
The true life of the Spirit is one of patience, one that understands that God sees us in the totality of our experience. He alone is capable of tracing the threads of today’s thought back through the tangles of yesterday and the yesterdays before that. That is sobering, too, for it leaves us without excuse when He offers us grace and leads us to change. We cannot hide behind any rationale, person or hypocrisy.
In a word that sobers and comforts, we find this assurance: “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12,13).
May the Lord help us to pursue holiness, matched with love, and patiently wait for the completion of His work in us … and in our brothers and sisters.
— Jerry D. Scott is senior pastor at Faith Discovery Church (Assemblies of God) in Washington, N.J.