It’s not a sin to love the world

Nick Charalambous

Christians are meant to live for the world. Too bad, so many people know the church by what we’re against.

If Christians are heard from at all in popular media, they’re usually taking a stand on some hot-button issue or another, loyal foot soldiers in a culture war. “Us" against “them.” At worst, Christians seem angry and hateful. And at best, they seem self-righteous and defensive.

This would make Jesus weep. When Jesus came into the world, and died and rose again to forgive our sins, He inaugurated a special era of God's grace when everyone has the opportunity to be made new and experience an eternal relationship with God the Father.

Our spiritual battle is against sin, not the people God loves. Our salvation is not in politics and legislation, but Jesus.

Our spiritual battle is against sin, not the people God loves. Our salvation is not in politics and legislation, but in Jesus.

God loves righteousness and hates evil. But as Christians, we need to remember grace rules. That’s why John, one of Jesus’ followers, announces the greatest news the world had ever heard — that "God so loved the world" — and follows it up immediately with a promise that is also a warning for the church: “God did not send his son to condemn the world” (John 3:16-17).

In an era of unparalleled challenges to Christian understandings of morality and what it means to be human, it’s easy for believers to condemn the world. Instead, we should, like Jesus, love the people of this world into the hope Jesus brings.

As believers, we are to spend our time on Earth doing good to others. The highest and best good is sharing God’s grace. This era of grace will only last until Jesus returns to fully and finally bring justice and an end to all evil at the final judgment. Right now, judgment simply isn’t our business.

So if grace rules, how should that affect the way we live day to day?

Three Ways We Can Live in Grace and Walk in Love

1. Be a blessing.

Doing good to people is what we were made for (Ephesians 2:10). God’s desire to bless the world through His chosen people is the central promise of the Bible (Genesis 12:12.)

Loving everyone, even your enemy, is how we show we are sons of God (Matthew 5:44), prove that we know God (1 John 4:8), and fulfill the law of God (Romans 13:10.) This is why the Bible instructs us to love and help the poor, the outcast, and the vulnerable, and to seek justice for the oppressed.

2. Be an example.

As God’s children, we show others who God is by the way we live. When we follow Jesus' example, we make better decisions and earn the respect of those around us. Even those who don't know God recognize the uniqueness of a man or woman who is moral and upright. (1 Peter 3:16).

We are to live continually and fully satisfied in Jesus’ love, patiently enduring suffering while rejecting our fleshly desires and the deceitful pleasures of the world (1 John 2:15-17). This “holy living” is the ultimate and only genuine declaration of how awesome God is.

3. Be a witness.

Sharing the Gospel is ultimately a call to repentance — a change of mind that leads to a change in behavior (Luke 24:46-48). But this call is humble, and it is gentle, and it begins with what Jesus has done for us personally. We should deal with our own sin before calling out the sins of others.

None of us can overcome sin without seeking Jesus’ forgiveness, accepting His grace, and following His guidance. The Bible says God’s kindness and patience lead people to repentance, not the force of our will or arguments (Romans 2:4). Pointing to Jesus is the best thing we can do in every situation.

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