Good, not compromised – extract from ‘Gospel Community’ Foundation module
The following is an extract from our Foundation Course module ‘Gospel Community’.
“Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good.” It’s striking that this is where Paul goes as he leaves first base on the subject of sincere, devoted love. It may sound jarring, but it is thoroughly intentional. It should grab our attention. It is striking that the next word after introducing the topic of love is ‘hate’. The word used means hate it with a passion. If fake love is the love of the air-kiss, then compromised love is the love of the doting parent who refuses to bring themselves to discipline their child even as she turns into a monster before everyone’s eyes. In a gospel community, we should enjoy and give good love. That means that we will refuse to compromise what is good in order to achieve community. That is not what good love is; that is not true love. We should be communities whose love hates what is evil and sticks to what is good like glue. This is not going to happen automatically, because it requires commitment, daily effort and attention. We don’t naturally hate evil, or stick like glue to goodness; especially not when that might be inconvenient or difficult for us.
Good love means our love for one another is not going to be indulgent. Our gospel community’s devotion to one another is not going to result in bland acceptance; a kind of ‘I’m alright, you’re alright’, mutual appreciation. It is going to involve being prepared to challenge one another, and initiate awkward conversations. Good love for one another has an agenda, and that agenda is that we might be tools in our Father’s hands, that he would use us to make one another more like Jesus, and to enjoy him more and more. Which also means that our gospel communities are going to be devoted to one another’s purity and godliness. Sometimes the loving thing to do is say something very difficult to a person. We might have to say to someone that they’re heading towards destruction, so the warning might have to be really stark. But that will only happen in a community of good love, not compromised love.
The alternative to that difficult conversation with someone is usually an easy conversation about someone. That might even create an easy affinity or affection for the person you’re talking to, but it will undermine the sincerity and credibility of your love for your brother or sister who is heading for trouble. It will undermine your gospel community.
When someone says something difficult, we must learn to welcome it and appreciate it. Be thankful for a gospel community where that happens. And be concerned if you’re not aware that such conversations ever happen. And repent if we have more conversations about people’s sin than with them about their sin.