a poor definition
This week, our Rooted focus turns to love. Love is a many splendored thing, it makes the world go round, and all you need is love, love, love. That’s what the world says, and the problem with all that is the world offers us a really lacking definition of what makes it go around. Love is so often defined as a feeling — a soft, squishy sort of emotional “thing” devoid of conflict and just makes us feel good. But that’s a really poor definition, and this week we take a look at the love that God authored — the love that He has for us and wants us to share with others.
it has everything to do with truth
You cannot understand or receive God’s love without knowing God’s truth. God’s love is not a feeling. God’s anger is His love. His wrath is His love. His discipline is His love. Now, that may not sound nice or not “feel” right, but it doesn’t make it not true. Anyone who is a parent, anyone who has suffered through a friend or family member’s struggle with addiction, anyone who has truly loved another person understands how all of those things are a part of real and true love. Real and true love is doing what is best for someone, not what will make them feel good. The Author of love knows that and is that.
there’s poo in the cookies
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1
So there’s a story out there (no idea if it’s really true, but it’s on the internet, and I’m a french model, so it must be true!) about a mom and her kids who were struggling with telling “little” lies (this is my kind of mom, by the way). The Mom, in an effort to teach her children a valuable lesson, decides to bake some chocolate chip cookies and harvests a wee bit of dog poo to use as an ingredient (see where this is going?!). As the cookies are cooling, she invites her kids inside and shares that she has baked these fresh cookies, but there’s a different ingredient in them that she just wanted to let them know about before they began reaching for, and devouring the cookies. She told her children that she put just a little bit of dog poo in the cookies and then asked them if they wanted some. Of course the kids were grossed out and didn’t want the cookies. And this is a perfect illustration of a serious danger that exists in our world and in mainstream Christianity today. Love is out there being proclaimed by fancy people in fancy clothes with fancy Powerpoint presentations with inspirational music and moving prose. There’s a cult of personality that is pervasive … and there’s poo in the cookies. So what are the “secret ingredients” that these false teachers are baking into the cookies?
- Prosperity gospel
- End times gospel
- Rob Bell gospel
You really should watch the video to hear more detail on each, but suffice it to say here that there are seemingly credible teachers out there that are eager for you to believe that God wants you to be wealthy, have a boat load of survival supplies for the coming apocalypse and plug into your spiritual side. While their messages have bits and pieces of truth and may sound really good, they are not rooted in Scripture. So what does the Bible have to say about the purveyors of these “truths?”
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
God leaves no grey area or wiggle room with these people who have “a form of godliness.” Have nothing to do with such people, He says.
So how do you identify unrooted teaching?
- What do they claim?
This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
1 John 4:2-3
- What is their source material?
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.
1 John 4:46
- Are both grace AND truth a part of their message?
Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.
1 John 3:18-22
You can’t love someone — truly love someone — without God’s truth. As we’ve seen all the way through the book of 1 John, it is all about God’s truth and God’s grace working together. We’ll finish this way — this is what real love looks like in God’s truth and grace working together:
Truth: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 1 John 3:6
Grace: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1
May you be rooted in truth and truly love as God loves us.