Grace A. Johnson
What If...Love is More Than Acceptance?
Lately, Christians have been told they need to love more. Love harder. Love better. We’re told this by media, politics, certain communities, Taylor Swift, and in some cases, even our own friends, families, and churches.
Now, I won’t deny that there’s some truth to this. A lot of people—most everyone, really—struggle with selflessly loving others. That’s just one of the perks of being human. We’re imperfect, fallible, frail. Incapable of being enough for another person, being everything someone else needs.
Which is just one of the reasons why being told to “love” ticks me off, quite frankly. You can’t expect anyone in this world to give you their total support or fully accept you. I’m not saying they won’t, I’m just saying that having such high expectations of people will only make the heartbreak worse when/if they don’t meant them.
And by you, I mean people in general or certain communities and organizations—the interpretation is up to you.
But what really irks me is that we have sorely misinterpreted love, in more ways than one. We’re always hungry for approval, support, and acceptance, labeling these things love and being disappointed or angry when we sense we’re not receiving that “love” from others. And it makes me wonder...what if love is more than acceptance? What if the reason why everyone is so concerned about “hate” is because what they’re looking for...isn’t love at all? What if loving and being loved means more than just accepting a person for who or what they say they are? What if it doesn’t mean any of that? What if, instead, love is supposed to change you?
1st Corinthians 13 tells us that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Love is gentle and pure. Love is selfless. Love doesn’t rejoice at wrongdoing—it’s holy and righteous.
Love isn’t what bends and changes to fit each person. Love isn’t what feels right to a person. Love isn’t what accepts anything and everything.
Love is unmoving, unchanging, stable and steady. Love is and Love was and Love will always be the same. Love is what changes you. Love is not just true, it is Truth.
You know why?
Because God is love.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1st John 4.7-12).
Or how about this: Anyone who does not know God—who has not been saved and sanctified by Him—is wholly incapable of loving, because God is love and without Him, without Love, you are nothing.
God doesn’t bend to the will of man or accept your sins. You know why? Because God doesn’t rejoice at wrongdoing. He is a holy and righteous God, and sin has no place before Him.
So when He loves someone—and He loves us all—He changes you. He washes your sins away and makes you new. Makes you pure. Shows you what love is and how you can love others.
I’m probably not making much sense, am I?
Well, let me just say it plainly: Stop telling me to love people, when what you want is for me to accept their sins and declare them as okay or right, when all I want to do is love people how God loves people. I want to show them that they are more than their sins or what they think they are. I want to introduce them to a Savior who can make them new and pour His love into them. I want to help them change, grow, become pure.
So, yeah, that makes me a hater, per Taylor’s definition, but that’s what God has called me to do—love people with Love. The only love out there. The love that changes them.