“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is certainly one of the most memorable movie lines that has come out of Hollywood. This was spoken twice in the 1970s film Love Story and was adapted and parodied numerous times in the following decades. Those who have seen the movie know that it was spoken is all seriousness in the movie and in some ways still reflects a twisted perception of the nature and maturity that should be associated with love.
The popularity of this quotation provides opportunity to show how diametrically opposed this sentiment is to the idea of real love expressed by Christ in one of his 7 letters. Most congregations in Roman Asia and North America have grown and expanded on the basis of the single portrait of love presented in Rev. 1:5, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” This picture focuses on one’s pleasurable reception of gifts from God. After all, who would not want to be rid of all the guilt associated with all their evil deeds, thoughts, and inclinations? Apparently Christ did not think this definition of love was sufficient for the congregations in Asia since he clearly expands the implications of his love in the letter to the congregation in Laodicea.
One of the traits of a half-truth is that it attempts to take part of the truth and make it all of the truth. It seems that too many believers want the half-truth that Christ gives in Rev. 1:5, but not the other part of the truth that he reveals in Rev. 3:19. Before Christ finishes his redemptive work for the believers at Laodicea, they must be rebuked and undergo discipline in the spirit of love. If he loves them, he will rebuke and discipline them, but none of this will be effectual if the believer does not have a repentant heart. Unlike the Hollywood version of Love Story, the love story that Christ invites us into demands that we say “I’m sorry,” and say it many times (and mean it).
At the present moment congregations think they are getting by with ignoring the full disclosure of the truth of Christ’s love. “Come to Christ,” they advertise, with references only to “freedom from sin.” Not a whisper, not even a faint whisper, about Christian discipline. The congregation at Laodicea had to learn the hard way that the only way that either Christ or the world will take a congregation seriously is when they advertise their Jesus as one who reproves and disciplines those whom he loves and at the same time demands their zeal and repentance.