Proclaiming the fullness of God’s love
    October 7 2015 by Brian Davis, Guest Column

    This is the fifth article in the Biblical Recorder series about how churches can respond to potential legal difficulties following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in late July legalizing same-sex marriage. The focus of the articles has come from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (KJV). In this installment we turn our attention to the spirit of love.
     
    The topic of love is garnering much attention, especially as it relates to sexuality and marriage. Many proponents of same-sex marriage have made what they feel is a simple request: let those who love one another express that love in marriage. But that simple statement fails to express the fullness of love.
     
    The Lord Jesus Christ displayed the greatest expression of love on Calvary’s cross. He said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Our Lord then follows that statement with, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” That message of love was handed to the church to proclaim to the world.
     
    However, the world has declared that the church promotes hate, bigotry and intolerance. I believe it’s time for the church to take its message of love back. I’m not talking about marketing or public relations, but rather intentional and consistent demonstrations of the doctrine of love. For years now, many churches have failed to express the fullness of God’s love so we should not be surprised that the world is full of individuals that do not understand God’s love.
     
    Let me explain: Before God called me into ministry I was a vocational agriculture teacher; specifically, I taught horticulture. As I would teach my students about photosynthesis, the process by which light fuels the creation of sugars that are used to nourish the plant, I explained the importance of the light spectrum in this process.
     
    To teach the light spectrum I used, as countless instructors before me, an acronym – ROY G BIV. The acronym stands for the colors in the range of visible light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. In order for plants to bear fruit, they require light across the entire range of the color spectrum. Plants that only receive light from the red-orange end of the spectrum are stunted in their growth and fail to bear fruit.
     
    To the other extreme, plants that only receive light from the indigo-violet end of the spectrum are spindly in their growth and they also fail to bear fruit. It’s my opinion that God has created men and women in much the same way as it relates to the doctrine of love.
     
    If a living soul is only exposed to one aspect of God’s love (like mercy or holiness), they’re often stunted in their growth and they do not bear fruit. Far too many churches lean toward one characteristic of God at the expense of another, and express an incomplete doctrine of love.
     
    Therefore, churches must undertake some needed soul searching and ask tough questions: Why have we failed in expressing God’s love in its fullness? What must we do to disciple those in our congregations so that they understand and express the fullness of God’s love to others?
     
    Many churches have declared that Christians “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” We have assumed there’s no gap between those statements. We’ve been wrong in that assumption.
    Those two phrases are miles apart if the church is not expressing the fullness of God’s love to others. Christians must respect and value every living soul, for Christ Jesus shed His blood for every living soul to be saved.
     
    Please do not misunderstand; respect for others does not equal condoning sin. Remember, the fullness of the doctrine of love, as revealed in Scripture, requires Christians to lift high the holy expectations of God as well as the grace and mercy of God.
     
    In the matter of sexuality, consider this: The scriptures proclaim that the “marriage bed” is pure and undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). However, the scriptures are equally clear that God desires to cleanse and forgive living souls of “all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This means that we should boldly declare that all sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage as expressed in scripture is out of bounds; but that God desires to forgive, to cleanse and to restore those who will admit, confess and repent of such sin.
     
    In short, people will get things out of order regarding sexuality, but God desires to forgive and cleanse. When living souls recognize the love of their Creator and His expectations for their lives, change can take place. These truths are not limited simply to those involved in same-sex relationships, but those who have things out of order in every sexual relationship.
     
    If ever there was a church that had sexuality out of order, it was the church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) we read: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
     
    For the church to truly impact the world, we must take our message back and then share and express the fullness of God’s love. But we do not stop there, for Paul concludes 2 Timothy 1:7 with a final admonition. Paul reminds us that God has given us not only power and love, but a sound mind as well. In the final installment we’ll give attention to the necessity for this sound mind as it relates to the matters of sexuality and marriage.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian K. Davis is associate executive director-treasurer at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)

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    10/7/2015 9:25:09 AM by Brian Davis, Guest Column | with 0 comments
    Filed under: 2 Timothy 1:7, love, same-sex marriage




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