Monday, July 24, 2006

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness: Part 1

“And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8) This is not the kind of rejoicing that Paul is talking about when he teaches us that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6) No one jumps up and down with joy over unrighteousness, and few are every that excited over the truth as well. The type of rejoicing that Paul is referring to in this scripture is a peaceful, happy disposition or a feeling of well being. It is a sense that you are well-off and content with life and its circumstances.

As Christians, we know that we are to denounce unrighteousness, but its presence is all around us. So to live a peaceful and comfortable life, we are often willing to tolerate the unrighteousness around us. We accept a peaceful coexistence with unrighteous and live in a kind of spiritual d├ętente with the forces of darkness. We try to live godly in our own lives, and we love to hear our preachers preach against evil in our churches, but we stop short of actually confronting the evil that is in our world. We live and let live to the point where we are willing to compromise everything so that we might not “rock the boat”.

We have become like Lot who “moved his tents as far as Sodom.” (Genesis 13:12) Sodom was exceeding wicked and Peter tells us that Lot’s soul was oppressed by what he saw around him. “For by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds.” (2 Peter 2:8) Yet Lot, for all his tormented soul suffered, never confronted the wickedness of that city. Lot was righteous, but his righteousness had no effect on the city around him or its inhabitance. In fact, when Lot finally stood up to warn them of the coming judgment from the hand of God, the laughed him to scorn for, “he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.” (Genesis 19:14)

We have become like the church at Corinth which was rich in the gifts of the Spirit, yet also rich in sin. “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife.” (1 Corinthians 5:1) This sin was a stain upon the church and an offence before God. Such a situation calls for action, yet the spiritual leaders of the church were silent. In fact, they seemed content to let “sleeping dogs lie” as long as they could have their anointed, powerful, Holy Ghost meetings.

Love does not live at peace with unrighteousness. Love cares too much for other people to “wink at sin” or to look the other way when iniquity enters the camp. Love cares enough to confront sin, even to “expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11) It reminds me of the time when President Ronald Regan stood before the Berlin wall and uttered those now famous words, “Mr. Gorbachove, Tear down this wall!” For years, the Soviet Union and the United States eked out a sort of peace between the two countries, neither willing to take a bold move or to “rock the boat”. Yet it was Regan who was willing to take on that “evil empire”, calling on them to dismantle their stronghold on the countries of the Eastern Block, and calling for the repudiation of communism. Regan was willing to take them on and, in the end, saw the demise of communism.

In the same way we too must be bold, not to take on communism, but to stand up against unrighteousness, iniquity, and injustice. To not just believe that unrighteousness is wrong, but to live a life that demonstrates what truth is, to show the world another way of living, and to campaign against wickedness by our own good deeds. Love takes a stand!

In the next few posts we will look at some ways that love can confront unrighteousness and help to establish the truth.

More to come… David Robison

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