Christianity Without Love?

The practice of Christian religious actions without love is empty, according to what apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 1 Cor 13:1-3 – “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” NIV

Love is a motivator. God loved each one of us enough to send Jesus to this earth to suffer and die for us, so that we can have the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus is celebrated by people with the giving of gifts. Giving can be joyful if done because of love, but a burden if giving from a feeling of compulsion. If we give with the expectation of receiving something better in return, we miss the reward of being blessed through giving. Unselfish concern for the needs of other people is central to real Christianity.

Concern for the needs of others will move us to help them with their problems. Why should we be concerned about the needs of other people? Because God loved them enough to give Jesus to die for their sins. If they mean that much to God, and we love and want to please God, then we will respect His concern for the well being of all people. Every person is potentially a child of God, if they come to believe and follow Jesus.

Every person, regardless of their race, economic status, social standing, disease, addictions, unworthiness, bad character, and other problems, is important to God, and thus should be important to God’s children. I have struggled throughout my life with the feeling of wanting to shun alcoholics, drug addicts, and immoral people. I just wanted to stay clear of them, like I am afraid of contamination by their problems. And I must confess that I have no idea of how to help some people who have become enslaved to drugs and alcohol. But I know that I should care about and try to help these people.

Sometimes we may use the words of Jesus, where He told His apostles to not throw their pearls to pigs, to justify not caring much about immoral people. But Jesus was talking about the self righteous Pharisees when He made this comment, Matt 7:6 -- "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” NIV

Jesus associated with the prostitutes and tax collectors, the bottom of the social status, and reminded his detractors that He did not come to save the righteous, but to call sinners to repentance. We need the same motivation. If we can share the love of Jesus with those who are helpless, they are more likely to respond than those who consider themselves righteous.

Luke records this about Jesus, Luke 5:29-32 – “Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?’"

“Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’" NIV

This lesson we all need to learn. Love for the undeserving is a characteristic of Jesus and his people. All the trappings of Christianity are useless unless accompanied by love from a good conscience, pure heart, and sincere faith (1 Tim 1:5).

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