Real Love and its Counterfeits

John 13:34-35 ESV  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  (35)  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It is quite easy to talk about love. About loving others. Most people would claim that they exercise love, at least toward those closest to them. I suppose the most wicked man or woman has at one time or another mouthed that phrase, “I love you.”

And we certainly see this among people who profess to be Christians. What local church, for instance, doesn’t have signs and slogans about how everyone there just loves one another?  Church advertisements often use jingles similar to “loving God and loving one another.” That kind of thing.

And yet….is all of this really the real deal? I suggest to you that most of it is not. Think about the things that go on in the typical church:

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“Give us Barabbas!” – When the Wicked are Chosen and the Righteous Rejected

Matthew 27:21-23 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!”  And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Barabbas was a notorious criminal. Jesus was perfectly righteous. Yet, in spite of the protests of the governor and the absence of charges, the Jews cried our for His death. “Let Him be crucified!”  They chose a wicked man over a righteous Lamb. We all know how deceptive abusers can be. Sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths – how they can charm! And we know that this is one of the reasons pastors and whole churches are taken in by these wicked ones. Naivete. Ignorance of abuse and its tactics. All of us were there at one time ourselves.

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Elitists Love to Creep into Church Leadership Positions

1 Timothy 3:2-3  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  (3)  not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

I was thinking recently about this quality that the Lord requires in a pastor/elder called – hospitable. You have probably heard before that it literally means “a lover of strangers.” It is far more than merely hosting hospitality social events. It really is a facet of love. It is loving people who cannot do anything in return for you. It is an objective love that doesn’t show favoritism.

Many of the wicked have what we would call an “elitist” mentality. They are motivated by “what’s in it for me?” because that really is why they do what they do. And so it is when they get into a church leadership position. “What’s in it for me?” they always ask (though usually not out loud).  They are a cut above the rest of us rabble. This thinking is an evil leaven that can quickly spread throughout a local church. It is a spiritual pandemic today in fact.

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