Jesus did not become a heretic because he ate with sinners, showed mercy to adulterers, or bucked certain religious traditions. Loving others well happens in the context of relationship. Jesus modeled this not by telling us to hate the sin and love the sinner but by telling us to love our neighbor, plain and simple. Standing for biblical truth in our personal lives will often include practical action, like voting in a way that aligns with God’s purposes (this doesn’t mean aligning with a specific political party), standing up for the rights of those who are marginalized (instead of seeking power for ourselves), and generously giving of our time and money to services that benefit causes we believe are important. It doesn’t mean that we have to voice our opinion about everything in our social media feed. After a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle revealed that she was suicidal during her very publicized life as a new part of the royal family. An Instagram post went viral with these words: “Meghan Markle probably isn’t going to see your negative comments saying you don’t believe that she was suicidal … but your friends and family who have been in the past will, and they’ll never come to you for help. Don’t be that person.” Loving God and loving others happen best and most effectively in relationship. Many of us love to vent our truth for all to hear on the bullhorn of the internet, but rarely will those divisive opinions cause real change or transformation in the lives of others. More often they cause more hurt and division. To be a true evangelist, to pursue unity with our Christian brothers and sisters, and to love our neighbor well, we have to take time to be in one another’s lives. That means less of being keyboard warriors and more of being the person who calls, goes for a walk, volunteers in their schools, and leads in the workplace. If we want our good theology to influence a broken world around us, we have to start with love for the people of our broken world—in and outside of the church.
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