Article by Pastor John McKenzie originally published in Oct. 1, 2016 Faith Forum of Curry Coastal Pilot - used by permission
"So who do you Christians hate this week?" As a Bible- believing follower of Christ, it is very disappointing to be asked this question. Despite being told that the comment was made in Jest, I stopped and thought about it, and realized that this very well could be some of the world's perspective on Christianity. I do not believe that it is the sum of who we are, but I am constantly bombarded on social media sites with reminders of why Christians are viewed in such a negative way. I see people who are very vocal about their Christianity also being very vocal about who and what they hate.
Christ's sacrifice on the cross allows us to have freedom from the bondage of certain lifestyles. It is up to us to help others understand and embrace this freedom as well. Many times telling the "good news" to people who have not yet realized the fullness of God's love for them through Christ becomes a "do not" lecture. As Christians, our focus should not be on these specific actions done by non-believers, but on what God did for us.
The way for lifestyles to change is through the Holy spirit's work, as a person enters into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The focus should be on why people change, not that we disagree with what they are doing. As Christians we should recognize the Bible as our authority and we are given the command to love one another 11 times in the New Testament. Not only should we do this but this should be our defining characteristic.
Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV)
The language used here is important. When Jesus says "as I have loved you," he is setting the standard for what this love should look like. Jesus showed us this love in the form of the cross.
In Koine Greek there were several different words for love. The word used by Jesus in this passage is the Greek verb agapao and its noun form agape. When broken down to its roots it can be translated as a self-sacrificing love, one that puts others first. This love that we are commanded to show is one where we put others first.
Philippians 2:3 says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves..." This is how we as Christians are to stand out, by replicating the love that Christ showed us.
We need to take Christ's example and love - not offering others this love with conditions or stipulations but instead love them first. In doing so we become different than our culture. In doing so we remind people that we as Christians should emulate Jesus Christ.