The source of true love
What does love look like? Hearts and flowers? Chocolates? Diamond jewelry? Maybe the Valentine’s Day kind of love does, but that kind of love waxes and wanes. In fact, some declarations of love are not exactly honest and may actually be harmful—even if that’s not what would-be lovers intend.
God alone is the source of true love—love that is completely pure and holy—because God is love. He always looks out for the best interests of His beloved—even when the beloved rejects or is offended by it. That is the kind of love Jesus taught us to emulate. Our love for others will always have integrity if it flows from genuine love of God and His gospel. But once love is disconnected from God and His Word, it falls short.
The big disconnect and the great omission
People tell me they love the Jews, yet some who say so will not mention Jesus to the Jewish people they know. I’m thankful for those who tell me frankly how badly they feel for not sharing Jesus with their Jewish friends. I understand their hesitation, appreciate their honesty and welcome the chance to pray that God will give them courage and an open door to share their faith.
But I don’t know what others mean by love when they seem shocked that I would even ask about their witness to Jewish people they know. Some have proudly replied that they would never risk offending them. These people are fulfilling what some call the Great Omission, refusing to speak of God’s greatest love gift for fear of causing offense.
Unfortunately, many religious institutions have formalized the Great Omission. Most recently, the Evangelical Church in Germany (in German, it’s the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, or EKD) published a resolution abandoning any and all efforts to tell Jewish people about Jesus. They wrote, “All efforts to convert Jews contradict our commitment to the faithfulness of God and the election of Israel.”
The EKD is a federation of churches—including Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant—that together make up the majority of Protestants in Germany.
Their declaration undermines the very love and respect it purports to express. Claiming to uphold God’s covenant love for the Jewish people, they withhold His greatest expression of that love, and His only means of salvation. I’m glad that the church in Germany has repudiated the ugly things that once were preached about Jewish people. But they have taken away with one hand the love they tried to offer with the other.
Perfect love casts out fear
In our response to the resolution I stated, “…an even more virulent form of anti-Semitism than Martin Luther’s ‘The Jews and Their Lies’ is being perpetrated. If Jesus is Messiah and Savior of the world, and as Jesus said in John 14:6, ‘No one comes to the Father but by me,’ then withholding that message from Jewish people is a grossly misplaced way of showing love.”
During the Holocaust, some Christians risked everything for the love of Jewish people. Yet most were silent as their Jewish neighbors were shipped off to death camps. As a result, feelings of shame and insecurity about relations with Jewish people have stifled gospel proclamation in many European countries, and especially in Germany. How can Christians fail to see the parallel between this deafening silence concerning the gospel and that shameful silence during the Holocaust? I wonder how those Christians who risked everything to save Jewish lives would feel knowing that today, many won’t even risk being considered offensive.
Love in action compels all Christians to share the gospel sensitively and humbly with people everywhere, including the Jewish people. I’m so thankful that we have a branch in Berlin, and faithful German friends there to stand with us. But please, pray for our work, and for the church in Germany.
Love sometimes forces us to make tough choices. It may cause discomfort. But if we want to love God’s way, this month and in the months to come, we need to do so without regard to our own comfort and with deepest concern for the best and greatest well-being of the one(s) we love. That is true love.