There are a lot of questions these days about how Christians ought to interact with the world, especially when the world has expectations of us that contradict what the Scriptures tell us to believe, say, and do. “How can we live ‘in’ the world without being ‘of’ the world?” “How do we love those who seem to hate us?” “How do we share the truth of the Scriptures in love?” “How can we live holy lives without withdrawing from the world completely?” “Is there a point where ‘common courtesy’ and ‘human decency’ go beyond the boundaries of Christian love and righteousness?” These are tough questions, and the answers aren’t easy, either.
To be honest, while the truth of Scripture will not change, the way we present it might change depending upon the situation and the individuals involved. Even though the way we share the truth of Scripture might change, the motivation should not change, and that motivation must be love. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-20:
Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. (15) And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (16) So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. (17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (18) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (19) that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (20) We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
We must be compelled by the love of God to share the truth of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and the salvation that Jesus offers everybody through that truth. Our ministry is reconciliation, and that is because God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins. God wants a relationship with everybody, and he has entrusted us, the church, to offer his plan of reconciliation to everybody.
Because each of us who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior has been reconciled to God, we, too, must offer the opportunity for reconciliation with God to all. And because that reconciliation was offered in love and secured with love, our ministry must be characterized by love.
That doesn’t mean that we have to hold back on the truth because it might offend some and hurt others. It is far more loving for us to share the truth of God’s love along with the truth of God’s righteousness and justice. Of course, that means that we must know the truth of God’s love and mercy and righteousness and justice; otherwise, we lose the message, and the world loses God.