Thursday, 2 April 2015

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Most people (christians included) will say that love is the best thing for everyone. 
We all know that! We all know that if we were really loved exactly as we are, for who we are right now - no strings attached - it would bring a deep peace, comfort and sense of relief.

Love is simply the most important thing any human can experience.

From a christian perspective, love is right up there - "they'll know we are christians by our love...", 1 Cor 13 etc. Every christian will extol the virtues of love, especially the "perfect love of God".

But "christian love" isn't love at all!

Yes, you heard me! Very few christians understand love - real love. They'll talk about how God loves us so much that he died (killed Jesus/Himself, or let him get killed, or any variation on that theme) so that we could experience that love and live eternally loved by God. There's lots of variations on that idea, doctrines etc that show God's love for us in so many ways, but that's basically it.

But in my over 40 years as a christian, I never really loved people without an agenda.

In fact, all my christian friends, the whole church, every church I visited, and every christian book I read, had "the big agenda". It was all part of the great commission mentality: "go forth and preach the gospel etc...", get them saved, bring them into the kingdom. The rest of the world are lost and doomed and only we have the answer. The world will end and how will we feel when we face God and have to account for our lack of passion and persistence in spreading God's saving grace - informing the world of God's love.

So we "loved" people, but we loved them with an agenda. We saw them as lost souls, in need of saving. We learned methods and techniques of doing loving things and how to care and nurture the hurting and broken. We worked hard at being God's "hands on earth" to feed the poor, heal the sick, and to be all that Jesus was.

But we had an agenda! We felt good about loving people. We were genuine and passionate. We'd make friends and help people. Many would go to far lands as missionaries, to bring that love to the poor and lost, to help in practical ways, provide for their needs, help the poor and the widows and orphans.

But we had an agenda! Always, always, in the back of our minds was to get them saved, bring them into the kingdom.

We'd cry real tears for the lost. We'd desperately "seek God" to soften their hearts. We'd be moved by compassion for their situations and genuinely want to help. We'd feel heartbroken for the kids suffering in Africa. We'd be moved with emotion for every needy person.

Jesus clones
But it wasn't love. It was a marketing plan - a very powerful and effective marketing strategy to increase our numbers. We were going to make everyone like us - wonderful caring loving christians who would bring in more wonderful loving christians. But we had no idea what love really is! We knew all the right words, and did all the things that look like love, but we had no idea how to love people simply for who they are. We were moved with powerful emotions and taught how to direct all empathy and compassion into "the mission".

Most christians have absolutely no understanding of what unconditional love is. They don't have empathy and compassion for people. They don't want to know who they are and work with them as fellow humans. They want to get them saved. They want them to experience the same set of beliefs they do, to be like them, to conform to a lifestyle. They want more christians!

Sure, you won't get many to see it like that, let alone understand the implications, but that doesn't change the fact that its the underlying motive for all acts of "love" performed by christians.

No, real love is brainwashed out of us as we "grow in faith". Unconditional love and accepting everyone as equal value is subtly but effectively twisted into a marketing campaign. The emotions we naturally feel when confronted by suffering and pain are redirected into a greater plan, an eternal plan, a far more important plan - at all costs - make them one of us!