Separating love and approval

The Mosaic generation represents a wide diversity of values and characteristics. Yet many of these young adults share a common value which sometimes might cause them to view older Christians as hypocrites. However, before we become too critical of older adults, it would seem both sides of the generational divide could learn something from each other regarding following Christ. 

Who has not witnessed the stereotypical scene where a couple of God-serving elderly women gasp at a young person’s tattoos, or piercings, or heavy gothic makeup? Then one of these women raises her hand in a quasi attempt to obscure her whispered judgment to the other.

Without a doubt such behavior reduces that young person in their eyes to becoming a despised object; someone less than a human made in God’s image. We should not be surprised if those older adults hold that young person at arms length. Nor should we be surprised if younger adults dismiss the older ladies as hypocrites for failing to love everybody.

Jesus’ words and actions plowed the path for his disciples. Because Jesus loved all people, he socialized with everybody. Nobody was reduced to being a despised object. To be sure, some religious folks found his behavior scandalous.

If we are going to walk in Jesus’ scandals so to speak, we can not afford to downgrade and dismiss anyone. Young people have a point if they criticize whatever prejudices might exist among those professing to serve Christ.

However, although some young people might avoid the ditch of prejudice strangling love, they might fall off the other side of the road into the trench of humanism trouncing godliness.  Ironically, older Christians can be less susceptible to this trap.

When people affirm ideas like “whatever works for you, that’s fine,” they level all human ideas and desires as being equally valid. Furthermore, they simultaneously jettison God’s revealed will regarding what is good and hurtful for our lives.

Once again Jesus’ words and actions plowed the path for his disciples.  Jesus recognized God’s authority to reveal an absolute standard. Jesus both commended and condemned the various ways humanity expresses itself. For Christ, just because someone wanted to do something did not make it acceptable.

If we are going to follow the Master, we can not afford to downgrade and dismiss God’s standard just because people prefer their own ideas. Some things are right and others are wrong regardless of what any human might believe or claim.

So how do disciples live with both exemplifying a love for everyone, while also recognizing that God has spoken regarding good and evil? Do the goals of loving people versus acknowledging God’s standard pull people into different ways of relating to others? No, as long as both values are informed by scripture.

While it might be common for people to equate loving everybody with approving everyone, God doesn’t. God does not approve every human desire, yet God’s love was actively poured out for all people. Love breaks down prejudice, however this does not equate to approving whatever might violate God’s standards.

Like Jesus, the disciple can love the sinner without approving the sin. Disciple who are following the Lord will not allow their prejudice to strangle love. Rather, like Jesus they will mingle with all in order to seek and save the lost. Furthermore, they will submit their human will to God’s will thereby acknowledging God’s standards of what is healthy and what is destructive.

Perhaps each generation can discover aspects of discipleship within other generations which are not so prevalent among their own peers. Clarity is only possible because Jesus points the way.


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