Do you ever get the sense that something is missing? Do you ever in the Independent Baptist world amidst the claims of our being the closest thing to New Testament Christianity feel that something is off kilter? Do you read the Gospels and think something about what Jesus did in sharing the Gospel with others is lacking in our efforts? Could it be that while many elements are present we have one major lacking component?
Love. We at times see the depths of the problem by the intensity of the cringing when we mention the need of love. Some are instantly offended when the word love is offered up as important. Sometimes the charge of “O no, you are one of those love-love-love people” starts flying. Well, that is a strange criticism to get. All in all, I don’t think I would be too devastated to be labeled as a Christian who is infected with love. Following a God Who Himself said He is love might make that criticism a badge of honor!
Still, some of our fellow Independent Baptists would be horrified to have the love label attached to them. Love, a theme that finds its way from the beginning pages of the Bible, intensifies in the New Testament, and finds its highest expression on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels, is thought by some to be a sure sign of weakness. Some feel it weakens the body of truth that is Christianity while, strangely enough, the Bible says it defines it and undergirds the whole.
I think they have the explaining to do. Love, for them, is really an umbrella term for a set of words and even some Scriptures that will put you on the suspicious list. Grace–that word that is a love springing forth raises some eyebrows. An appeal to love enough to not judge is a real blood-pressure raiser. To even quote Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”) is a sure-fire way to make them think you don’t even believe the Bible even though you just quoted it. Liberty, or the freedom purchased by love, is another no-no. “Love your neighbor” may be in the Bible, but surely neighbor is an extinct species. You get the point. The things criticized here make up a grand portion of the New Testament and it is, therefore, absurd to criticize where the Bible commends for one claiming to follow that Word.
This gets even uglier. We give token acknowledgment to love and then revel in a harsh, militant view of the truth. How could we have truth without love if love is part of that truth? We are hard where Jesus was kind. We say we love, but no one believes us. We scream and get angry and lament that no one listens. Would you listen?
Love is never proved by words, only action. The test is simple: do others feel it? Before you trash the test remember the ones who met Jesus in the Gospels would have answered yes.
To have Christianity without love is like having chocolate chip cookies without chocolate! If you make those cookies and realize you left out the chocolate you know you bombed! Go back to the kitchen and put in the chocolate or you will never have chocolate chip cookies. Without love you will never have Bible Christianity either! This ingredient is missing, but it isn’t lost. We know where it is. In fact, the cupboard is full of love for one who knows Jesus Christ. I suggest we go to that cupboard, get it, and put it back in.
Find all articles in the series here.
9 thoughts on “The Missing Ingredient (Independent Baptist Truth Revolution #11)”
First fruit of the Spirit is love, seems to me we might be unfruitful without it.
Jeremy, you are exactly right. No love means the fruit (singular) is not present in your life.
And pastors wonder why folks visit, but do not stay.
You can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink….no matter how loud you yell and scream.
That is some of the collateral damage of a lack of love for sure!
“Love is never proved by words, only action.” And I would ask how is “love” being demonstrated in our church ministries? I am for fellowships and retreats but sometimes I think our fellowships and retreats outweigh our outreach. Hurting people in the pews, hurting families and marriages, teenagers lost and searching, lonely people fighting addiction, people searching for answers– are the ministries reaching them? Are we reaching out to them Do we as a church make ourselves as much available to the hurting ones. Do we seek them out? Some of them are sitting next to us in the pew and we don’t even know it. I sometimes see the list of activities and notice our “fellowships” and “retreats” are often more frequent than our outreach. I get convicted over this myself. Am I helping those in need in my community? We minister within to our church family with fellowships and retreats and activities and those though are available for everyone– I wonder how much is designed to help the seeking hurting ones. When love is missing then we are missing the vision to see those truly in need.
Reaching out to needy ones, even those hard to love, is really the test of if we truly love. We should be convicted about the things you have mentioned.
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Hi! I stumbled on your blog by accident but am so happy I did. I was raised my whole life in the strict Independant Baptist realm. For a lot of the reasons that you stated. I am no longer a member of an Independant Baptist Church. There are sooooo many things I can relate to. I appreciate y’all putting yourself out there. It’s refreshing. Maybe one of these days the churches around me will change and maybe I could become a member of one again.
Thanks Allison! I pray that we can make difference so folks like you can come back!