Campfire Scripture: Uncommon scriptures, simple truth… For pondering over a warm campfire.
Author, Date and Context:
Throughout the early church period, Matthew an apostle of Jesus Christ, one of the initial twelve disciples and an eyewitness to Christ’s resurrection was unanimously understood to be the author of Matthew.
The destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70 is a highly significant and important event in church history, and is a key factor (if not the key factor) in dating the Gospels and the epistles of the New Testament. Matthew’s Gospel was written before this event. Possibly as early as A.D. 50. An accurate dating of the Gospel is a significant and enduring issue in New Testament scholarship known as ‘the synoptic problem‘.
The brief but important passage above are but a few of many teaching of Christ during His earthly ministry.
What I Reckon:
This might seem a little left field. I’m usually posting scriptures with a healthy emphasis on sin, sanctification, violence and all other things biblical and manly. But to love is one of the fundamental doctrines and practices of the Christian faith.
It’s of course the most popular too. Love your neighbour, love everyone. Almost synonymous with ‘being Christian’ today is the idea of ‘loving people’.
Those with malicious intent crucify Christians who appear to behave in any way ‘unloving’. If you don’t perfectly embody the subjective and abstract idea of love defined by an individual, you’re a heretic; a callous, arrogant, two-faced hypocrite of a Christian.
“Oh how can you be so unloving? What kind of Christian are you anyway?”.
You’re not loving, you’re a hateful bigot.
In response to this Christianity has been desperately scrambling to appease that which cannot be appeased by emphatically declaring that we love everyone.
Man, it’s all about the luv-a-Jesus. You just gotta love on people.
Of course there’s the go to scripture,
“4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
And that sounds all nice. But love is not just about being nice. More importantly, love is not a synonym for being nice, or encouraging, or uplifting. Love is an action. Most people understand this. But what kind of action?
Well, as Christians first and foremost, we love God. We demonstrate that love by following in Christ’s example of righteousness.
The transforming process of sanctification will create in you a heart that loves God and loves his creation, especially the lost sheep. The lost sheep, as this verse describes, are your enemies. They will hate us and persecute us until they either convert, or perish.
Consider Romans 12:9,
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”
That really adds some nuance. To love is to hate evil, and cling to what is good.
God is good. Sin (and the world), is evil.
Anyone who claims to be a Christian but openly defends and justifies and makes excuses for evil and things of this world, according to this verse, does not love.
You do not love an unbeliever if you don’t care about their sin, or their unbelief. They are perishing. If you don’t warn them, you don’t love them. You’re not showing love to them.
Showing love does mean letting them do whatever they want and just being nice to them anyway. This is what the world believes love is. If you want to be accepted by the world you have to be willing to let people be whatever they want.
If you want to be a Christian, you have to show the world its sin. This is at the core of biblical love.
Love is to cling to what is good. Only God is good.
All Campfire Scripture passages are taken from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise stated.
John MacArthur, 2006, The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (1995 edition).