The first time I read the Bible from cover to cover, I struggled. It was not time or commitment that was the issue. I wrestled with reconciling the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament.
I cannot recall the number of times I had to close my Bible horrified at punishments wiping out entire families for the sin of a few men. The God I followed could not be this cruel.
Entering the New Testament, I suddenly found myself looking at a God filled with love so great He would lay down His life for us. I found myself asking over and over again who God really is.
Our picture of God
I think for a lot of us the picture of God that we have in our minds have been painted by Christian scenes – Christian songs, Christian movies and the church. We often talk about God’s love, forgiveness, grace and the like. While all these are true of God, let me put it to you that there is more to who God is.
Does God hate anyone?
Let’s look at what the Bible says.
The boastful cannot stand in your sight; you hate all evildoers (Psalm chapter 5, verse 5).
You must not follow the statutes of the nations I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and I abhorred them (Leviticus chapter 20, verse 23).
All their evil appears at Gilgal, for there I began to hate them. I will drive them from my house because of their evil, wicked actions. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious (Hosea chapter 9, verse 15).
The above are a few of many verses talking about how God hates the sinner. These are the hard truths in the Bible that most people skirt around because it makes us uncomfortable. We have been indoctrinated with the cliché ‘God loves the sinner but hates the sin’ that we are considered to be judgmental if we even dare to speak about how God hates.
The mysteries of God
God loves and God hates. You might argue with me, “This can’t be right. He can only be one or the other.”
Many people have the same argument about God being man. Jesus was fully man and fully God. Therefore, God is able to love His creation and hate the sinner at the same time. What God is able to do in a holy and just way is beyond our human comprehension.
What do all these mean for the Christian?
God is God. We are imperfect beings and are unable to love and hate the way God does. Hence, we have to choose to obey what God calls us to do.
Jesus sums it up for us - ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew chapter 22, verse 39).
We extend a 1 Corinthians chapter 13 love to anyone despite the choices they make, in hope that they will see the love of Christ in us.
Where do we draw the line?
We show love but must be clear that we do not condone or excuse sin. In other words, sin is not to be taken lightly. It should grieve our heart the way it does the Holy Spirit.
We are commanded to “keep ourselves unstained from the world” (James chapter 1, verse 27), to be “dead to sin” (Romans chapter 6, verse 11) and to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verse 22).
The truth sets us free
So we know we are called to love and the truth about sin. Yet we only share the former. We have become so afraid of sharing the truth whether from the pulpit or in our daily conversations. We hesitate to say that homosexuality is wrong, abortion is murder or that cohabitation is not God’s plan for couples.
Our fear is based on our insecurity that people would be turned away from Christianity and the church.
Yes, the truth will hurt, offend and convict the sinner. The Bible is offensive to those that are not living by it.
"For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12).
This is not to condemn but to bring people to repentance. It is our calling to share the truth and let the Holy Spirit convict. Because only “the truth will set you free” (John chapter 8, verse 32).
Speak the truth in love
In many parts of the world, people have died and are risking their lives every day to share this truth. Our hands are not bound and our speech not impeded in this country that we live in. We have the privilege to share the whole truth (Acts chapter 20, verse 27), so do not shy away from it.
We are all accountable and answerable to God with what we do with this truth that has brought us salvation. The best way to show true love for God and our neighbor is to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians chapter 4, verse 15).
Mussita Ng is a follower of Jesus Christ from Wellington, New Zealand.