If asked to describe a Biblical love, many will quote John 3:16— For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But few quote the next verse, which is the finish of that thought:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.(vs.17)
That is the essence of God’s love. He doesn’t wish to condemn, but to save. As followers of Christ’s example, are we not called to do the same? If we let our human judgmental gene bubble to the surface, we cut off the flow of that love. Our attitude towards the other person is clouded by our own prejudices, our interpretation of what is wrong and what is right, our social upbringings, perhaps our hurt and anger. Intolerance replaces compassion. This attitude is why so many non-Christians views Christians as hypocritical. It is why Holy Wars were fought.
Love the sinner, yes, but does that mean condoning the sin? No. There is a vast difference between condoning and condemning. It does mean seeing them as creatures created by God who are in need of redemption, just as we are. It is noticing the speck in their eye after we remove the log in ours. It is realizing we can’t cast the first stone because we, too are not without sin.
God turns away from sin, so should we. But He loves each of us enough to provide a way back to Him so we won’t be condemned. That way is through His Son, who came to save the world, and not just the world, but the seemingly unlovable. In my honest moments, I realize that is me.
Because He chose to do that for me, spurs me to do the same for others. Not easy. It’s hard to look past the hurt, the anger or the disgust. It can only be done through the lens of God’s love. Not rose colored ones that blurs the sin, but crystal clear ones that peers deep into the heart to see a spark of what could flame redemption. It is a lens that makes me squint at the brightness of Christ, but once the smudges of judgmental ideas and narrow minded thoughts are removed and my spiritual eyes adjust, I see things so much more clearly. I can see a way to love.