• 419-224-6961
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Loving Our Neighbors

Loving Our Neighbors

“I thought you were supposed to be Christian!” This phrase has been repeated countless times over the years—most often in response to a confrontation about inappropriate behavior. In some people’s minds, our being Christian means that we are obligated to overlook their actions, even when harmful to themselves or others. What is the appropriate Christian response to sinful behavior? How do we love our neighbors?

You can probably imagine the free-for-all environment if we allowed any behavior without consequence. Theft, damaged property, acts of violence, drug use, self harm—chaos would reign. Many are coming out of those types of environments and want to be away from that sort of thing.

The reality is that we’re dealing with lost, unrepentant sinners, and one way or another we must respond to that. If not for the hope we have in Christ, we would be perplexed—there would be no clear answer, and in all likelihood we would default to the worldly position of affirming sin. The worst, most un-loving, un-Christian thing we could do is tell them they’re okay in their current state. But there is hope—even for people who we may think of as the worst of sinners.

For Christians, the truth is that there was nothing good about us when God saved us. An accurate summary is found in Ephesians 2:1: “And you were dead in your transgressions and sins.” But thankfully, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). If we were good enough, we wouldn’t need to be saved. And no matter how good we try to be, that has no effect whatsoever on salvation: “He saved us, not by works which we did in righteousness, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5).

We are not saved out of a lost and sinful state only to keep it quiet. The loving thing to do is tell the truth. We must warn about sin and its eternal consequences, and share the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. That is the gospel message put simply.

Danger of a false gospel
Did Jesus come to seek and to save the lost, or did He come to affirm sins? The answer should be obvious (Luke 19:10), but some may hesitate because of just how much the gospel has been distorted. In many cases, delusions are affirmed and sins are classified as “illness” to excuse the behavior, effectively turning people from guilty sinners into helpless victims. False Christians and false churches affirm, accommodate, and even celebrate sinful lifestyles. People love their sin and there is no end to what they will do to justify it. This type of behavior has become so prevalent that many truly believe that Christians must support them no matter the sin they have chosen to live in.

Reality of repentance
Jesus called for repentance (Matt. 4:17) and denounced those cities which did not (11:20). In appearing to the disciples after His resurrection, Jesus explained Scripture to them, saying, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). Paul stated that “God is now commanding men that everyone everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30).

The Bible is clear—sin separates us from God, and failing to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will result in paying the penalty of eternal destruction (2 Thes. 1:8-9). There is no alternative to handling sin. There is no excusing or accommodating it. The only answer is repentance and forgiveness.

True transformation
In 1 Cor. 6, Paul lists people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. He follows that with this statement: "And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (v. 11). When we are saved, we are made new (2 Cor. 5:17), and we are "blessed with every spiritual blessing" (Eph. 1:3).

As Christians, we must stand firm in the truth and share that truth with others. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer to sin and its consequences, and proclaiming it faithfully is the most loving thing we can do for our neighbors.