This meme is making its way around facebook and the blogosphere. Here are my thoughts on it:
Jesus commanded his disciples to love their neighbors. If by that he meant that they should participate in and celebrate the sinful behavior of their neighbors, then Jesus and His disciples did not love their neighbors. But of course, this isn’t what Jesus meant at all. Jesus loved his neighbor perfectly, and apparently that love included not only mercy, service, sacrificial death, but also convicting truth about their sin which was met with hostility and offense (e.g., Zacchaeus, the rich young ruler or the woman at the well). No, the command to love your neighbor is preceded and superseded by the “first” and “greatest” commandment of all, love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul (Matt. 22:37). That is, the second and lesser commandment is controlled by, informed by, and limited by the first and greater commandment.
So men will command Christians to love their neighbor by celebrating their sin, but like Peter, the believer will love and obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Jesus ate with and befriended sinners (he befriended me after all!), but he did not participate in or join in a celebration of their sinful activities, nor did he fail to acknowledge and rebuke their sin in love (e.g., the woman at the well). Indeed, as a carpenter, Jesus would have crafted chairs for pagans to sit in (that’s loving your neighbor), but he would not have crafted idols for them to worship (that’s loving God more, since making idols for the purposes of idolatry is forbidden in the Law, Lev. 26.1, and he obeyed the law perfectly, Heb. 4:15). You see, he did what he instructs the believer to do. First, before anything else, love and obey God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Then, love your neighbor. Loving your neighbor in scripture never meant (nor did Jesus and his disciples practice) indifference to or celebration of sin. Quite the contrary, the followers of Jesus are to “come out from among them” for they are of a different order: 2 Cor. 6.
The biblically illiterate will be duped, stumped, humored, or convinced by memes like this, but faithful believers need not be troubled by them at all. Twisting scripture is a trick of the devil, the fundamentalist, the heretic, and the bible skeptic, and those who want to transform Jesus into their own image, but not the disciples of Jesus Christ who are prepared to let God be true and every man be a liar (Rom. 3:4).
Someone asked me this in the comments: “So, an act like “serving pizza” would fall under your example A whereas a church choosing not to marry a same-sex couple would fall under example B, correct?”
My response: Of course. You aren’t loving your neighbor if you refuse to deliver pizza on the doorstep of a divorced person, Hindu, or adulterer. You are just being a self righteous jerk, completely ignorant of the gospel or your own sin. But you aren’t loving God if you don’t hesitate to cater a two hour party at a legal brothel. That kind of discrimination is required as disciples of Christ and “progressives” may call them bigots or backwards or whatever insult makes them feel superior. The believer will have to just take it knowing that they mocked Jesus and he promised that his disciples would fare no better.