An Off-Limits Kind of Love
“Just don’t even go there” usually means a topic is off-limits for discussion.
Hearing that phrase usually makes me want to “go there” more that I did before, especially when it comes to decisions that need to be made in the church that aren’t.
You know what those off-limit topics are at your church, don’t you? <Rant>
You know something needs to be discussed or changed, yet everyone has decided to pretend we don’t have a problem. It’s like pretending that everything you hear on the news isn’t biased in some way.
Last night, Adele did an amazing thing at the Grammys. She started a song, didn’t like it, stopped the song on live TV, started it over, and nailed it. Bravo. Not even live TV would stop her from performing it the way she knew she should.
Doesn’t the church have a much more important message? Don’t we ignore topics we know we should address because they might be a little controversial?
In leadership, there will always be pressure to keep everyone happy. Don’t rock the boat, don’t spit in the wind, and stay as neutral as you can. But here’s the rub:
You can’t. You aren’t neutral. You’re a Christ-follower. In fact, Jesus himself was anything but neutral and if ever there were a time to get involved, it’s now.
If we are truly going to have an impact on the future of our communities we are directly in contact with, we must be willing to wade out into the fray a little as a church body and engage the off-limit topics.
Churches should be talking about abortion, gay marriage, sex, cutting, and equal pay and treatment of women. We should guide our people to talk with those of other faiths or no faith at all. We need to have a real discussion within our walls about the wall, refugees, and racial tensions that still very much exists. These are all directly related to our understanding of the Gospel, but you have to put those two things together for them.
Our people are trying to navigate this increasingly hostile culture and the church has remained painfully silent on these issues save the few extreme opinions to either side. Is that how we love our people? Leave them to figure out what to do alone? I think not.
Our role is to equip…to equip our congregations to talk to these issues in light of the Gospel. Sharing the message of Christ’s resurrection is not divided from the message of Christ’s life and teaching. It’s the two-sided coin of following Jesus: one side is evangelism, the other, discipleship.
Love that imitates Jesus is a love where no topic is off limits.
We navigate the difficult conversations because we should, not when we feel good about it.
Pastors and ministry leaders, not everyone is going to like you. They didn’t all like Jesus either and He was much better than you.
So speak the Truth in Love to your people; give grace and peace to those outside the church and do not neglect your gift.
True Love ignores the list of off-limit topics and lovingly leads others to the truth. You’ve got to be willing to budget the fact that a few people are going to hate you into your leadership. I think Jesus told us to expect that, anyway, so don’t be surprised.