“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.
3 thoughts on “Two Kinds of a Love Story”
Kind of like talking obsessively about John 3:16, misinterpreting it, and then failing to read through the rest of the chapter (see v.18-20 and especially v.36!). It ain't all good news.What your post observes is the minimalistic palatable idol we always hear about. We mold and shape it and carry it into our churches and into culture and say "see? it's not so bad." All the while thinking we're doing God a favor; when it's actually quite insulting, unloving, and fraudulent (never mind dangerous). Now let me tell you how I really feel…
Jr, Your comment about John 3:16 is right on target. And this problem of "half-truth" love seems to be so widespread in churches, in virtually all denominations and "Bible-churches." Thanks for visiting the blog and your comments.
What your addressing is one of the biggest, if not the most, pressing problems faced by declining churches. Churches decline for many reasons, but one of the largest reasons is a lack of commitment (discipleship). So many want to do their own thing and then show up for one or two hours on Sunday and call that "church." Yet when the preacher/pastor tries to bring correction (which includes rebuking the sin of non-commitment), the reception is "we just need to focus on positive things" (=don't tell us were wrong or ask us to change). This practical theology problem is a direct result of a half-theology (or as you say, half-truth) of God's love.What is crazy is how we would ever actually believe that we can grow into mature health as a church without correction and discipline. As parents, we certainly believe it is necessary to correct our children so why do we believe being the children of God is an exemption to correction?Grace and peace,Rex