237 E. North St. Carlisle, PA 17013 Sunday School: 9:30am ; Sunday Worship: 10:45am

The Loving “No”

by Tim Keller, Lead Pastor
We live in a time where a politician is evaluated largely based on whether or not he votes for additional funding.  If he decides to vote to cut funding for research into a particularly cruel disease, it can only be interpreted that he wants people to die unnecessarily.

If a man’s religion teaches him that something is morally wrong and he advocates for his position, the only logical conclusion is that that he hates the people who are engaging in the behavior he finds objectionable.

A grandfather takes his grandchild to the zoo for a memorable day of fun and indulgence.  As the day reaches a conclusion the child begs his grandfather for a large, stuffed bear that measures more than four feet in height and weighs nearly 20 pounds.  The grandfather knows that the interest in the toy will be fleeting and the burden on his daughter and son-in-law will be significant as they find a place to keep the thing in their small apartment.  Nevertheless, he grants the child’s wish and cites to himself the only essential reason . . . I love him.

Such is the result of a nation that has lost its’ mooring from a true definition of love.  When love is disconnected from its’ true definition it becomes a universal type of approval and support for whatever the subject happens to be.

In the name of love we push for what we want no matter the hurt it inflicts.  In the name of love we offer support for behavior that is destructive.  In the name of love we neglect to confront even though the absence of accountability will result in bad behavior continuing.

One of the hardest apologetics for many Christians is the need to answer why God doesn’t respond to every prayer with an affirming “Sure!”  We cringe at the thought of our loving God allowing us to be hurt, neglected, or worse, not get what we want.  How could He be so cruel as to say “No” when I’m asking Him with such sincerity?

The answer lies in the fact that God’s definition of love doesn’t hinge on how He’ll be perceived if He doesn’t comply with our wishes.  Instead, He possesses a love motive that does what is best for us even if our awareness of that motive is not always present immediately.  He’s willing to allow us to be angry with Him for doing the very thing that will bless us in the long run.

This is an amazing brand of love that is so far from the natural human experience that we can easily miss it and label it as just the opposite: God allowed something that appears horrible to happen so He must not love me.

A loving God allowed His own Son to be murdered in order to redeem the entire world.  If I define love the modern way there is no way that the Father loved the Son.  If I define it the godly way then there is no other way to view it than the greatest act of love in history.