Hello everyone! Valentine's Day, the holiday of love, is almost upon us in 2022! With that in
mind, and with the continued sex and abuse scandals in the church and Christian music (see Relevant Magazine's very good interview with Lecrae and Tripp regarding fellow recording artist, and Reach Record's label mate Gawvi from 2/4/2022), I wanted to talk today about love. Specifically the church's narrative around love and where we are really dropping the ball in our understanding of love.
Note: You will find in the Relevant Magazine article, Lecrae and Tripp know how love works and what its role is in these situations. For the link go to: https://relevantmagazine.com/culture/music/lecrae-and-trip-lee-speak-out-on-reachs-decision-to-cut-ties-with-gawvi/
To begin our discussion today, let's look at how Paul outlined what love is for us in 1 Corinthians 13. **If you have read my 1st book, The Road Less Traveled: A Story of Love, Pain, Hope, and Everything In Between, you know I spend a significant amount of time of explaining what love is and is not. I too use 1 Corinthians 13 as the definition of love. I am going to add the verses here so we are all on the same page:
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13b TPT; “ (4) Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. (5)Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. 6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. (7) Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. (8) Love never stops loving.....(13b) three things remain: faith hope and love – yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.”
Note the phrases I have highlighted, they will be important in my discussion today; and the Word will speak for itself as it always does.
Where has the church gone wrong you ask?
Let's start by looking at the beginning of verse 6: “Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.” To put it plainly, love sides with truth and detests evil. It calls a spade a spade where evil is concerned. It calls out evil and does not celebrate it. In the case of sex scandals and abuse, the church's track record is less than stellar in this regard. I have found that many church leaders and pastors have done the opposite – they coddle or enable the person in the name of “love”, knowing full well what they are doing to other people. “Well, if we love him or her enough, they will change” is the idea behind this. People do not change unless they want to change and first and foremost, repent.
Love does not coddle. Love does not enable. Love finds no delight in what is wrong! It's right there in black and white!
Take a look at verse 5: Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect. Love is not a fan of the
disrespectful, evil way unrepentant abusers or those with addictions they won't get help with use people, abuse people, shame them, humiliate them, or degrade them. Again, it's right there in black and white Church! Where is the disconnect? You do not take the side of an unrepentant person who continually shames and disrespects someone else – this is not love!
Love is a safe place! Look at verse 7. Love is a safe place from abusers and those who are
unrepentant where evil is concerned of any kind. Note I said it is a safe place FROM not a safe place FOR abusers and the unrepentant. The Church has too long made it a safe place for abusers and those with serious, harmful addictions that they aren't willing to change for so many years. The Church has made it an unsafe place for those whom abusers and addicts harm by not believing them or worse, asking them to “love it out of them.” I will say this again, no one changes unless they want to. Jesus can't and won't heal people who don't repent and who don't want healing. He does not violate nor manipulate the wills of men and women.
I am so very tired of the Church (who I love dearly as Jesus does) not allowing this aspect of love discussed in verses 5-7 to come to the forefront when dealing with other Christians or non-Christians who have serious addictions and who are unrepentant, and those who abuse and are unrepentant - hurting themselves, other people, and the integrity of the Church! Paul was quite clear in 1 Corinthians 13 when he wrote about love. This coddling and enabling must stop! Jesus will hold those accountable who continue to perpetuate evil in the Church, whether they be the culprit or the enabler. For those who have ears to hear and eyes to see – open them, now is the time!
I want to be clear about the definition of an enabler. An enabler is someone who
consistently makes excuses for a person's evil and hurtful behavior towards others. They do not hold that person accountable. They do not point that person to repentance and to Jesus. They do not practice love and they do not believe nor care to believe those hurt by the person they enable. They have, whether through deception or blind, purposeful loyalty, made an alliance with evil.
Love calls people to repentance, period! Jesus calls people to repentance and he does not accept anything else, period! Paul speaks of this in Romans 2:4a TPT; “Do the riches of his extraordinary kindness make you take him for granted and despise him? Haven’t you
experienced how kind and understanding he has been to you? Don’t mistake his tolerance for acceptance. Do you realize that all the wealth of his extravagant kindness is meant to melt your heart and lead you into repentance? ” To those who are purposely harming others and/or abusing them, Jesus sees the abuse and harm to others and calls you to repentance! He does not accept your continued unrepentant heart and abuse of his Grace! You live because He is merciful to those who don't deserve it, not because he loves or accepts what you do.
I will conclude today by saying that a Church who wants true repentance and restoration calls evil out for what it is, evil. This Church points a person hurting others to repentance, to Jesus, and to much needed therapy. They also re-evaluate their continued involvement in a person's life who, is consistently and without remorse, being unloving and perpetuating evil toward them or others. There are times we must give people to Jesus and walk away because they are not healthy for us, our family, our church, our other relationships, or our business. We do not have the help they need and frankly can't help them. We must be able to discern that some people do not want help and they are not interested in healing – they are getting more out of being a victim and a villain. Or as Lecrae puts it so well, “they want to sit in dysfunction.” These are the people that Jesus talked about - shaking the dust from your shoes as you depart (Matthew 10:14). Jesus also spoke to how the Church is to deal with an unrepentant person (for any reason) in Matthew 18:15-18 TPT; “If your fellow believer sins against you, you must go to that one privately and attempt to resolve the matter. If he responds, your relationship is restored. But if his heart is closed to you, then go to him again, taking one or two others with you. You’ll be fulfilling what the Scripture teaches when it says, ‘Every word may be verified by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ And if he refuses to listen, then share the issue with the congregation in hopes of restoration. If he still refuses to respond, even to the church, then you must disregard him as though he were an outsider, on the same level as an unrepentant sinner.”
Jesus releases us from relationship with unrepentant, evil people; period – both personally and as the Church.
Church, we have got to get back to the basics of the love talked about in Scripture! We can turn this tide of abuse and hurt in our churches! We can end the reign of subversive evil in this time and this generation! I call the Church to be love! I call the Church to rejoice with and stand with the Truth as does Love! I call the Church back to her first love, Jesus!
With much love and hope for His Church,
**You can find my books on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), iBooks, and
www.audible.com To find direct links, visit my main website at www.elizabethbillingsley.com