“I am who I am because somebody loved me.” – Cornel West
I’m having trouble with the “love the sinner; hate the sin” thing for a number of reasons.
I don’t like it because it’s too easy. So that means I can love anybody by eliminating the part of them I hate, and love what’s left? Gosh, I can love anybody this way. I love you; I just hate everything I don’t like about you. How do you embrace a sinner and not embrace their sin?
I don’t like it because it cuts people up into pieces, i.e. I can love this piece, just not that other piece. How do you do that? If I’m a sinner (which I am), part of me is my sin. If you’re going to love me and hate my sin, where does your hate stop and your love begin?
I don’t like it because it makes us the judge of someone’s sin, and whenever I focus on someone else’s sin, I always get in trouble with my resident Pharisee. I see their sin and not mine. I’m trying to recover from being a Pharisee, and this doesn’t help at all. Besides, Jesus told us not to judge anyway, so that should be enough right there to get us out of this activity.
I don’t like it because it’s not biblical. It’s not the way Jesus loves us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ embraced us along with our sin and that’s why He died. How can we expect to love without dying if it took Christ’s death to love us?
Right now I’m seeing a lot of Chandler’s sin and that’s making it very hard for me to love him; I’m too busy judging him – trying to catch him in the act. There you go, you did it again. What do you think Chandler’s experiencing from me right now? Not much love. If I try loving him and hating his sin, I’m never going to get around to the loving part; I’m too busy hating.
I have to love him and embrace his sin, and I can’t embrace his sin without embracing my own. That’s why I have to die, just like Jesus. He loved us, embraced our sin on the cross, and died. When I embrace Chandler, I’m joining him, embracing my own sin and dying to it. This is why there is death in love. You can’t love somebody and stay separate from them at the same time. Death is the requirement of love, that life might be born anew in us all.
So I think I can make this a lot easier … just love the sinner; we’ll figure out what to do with the sin later. When you love the sinner, you are loving yourself in the process.