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Tuesday, 7 May 2013

To Love or Not to Love

"Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?" 2 Chronicles 19: 2.

Although clearly a rhetorical question from Jehu to Jehoshaphat, let's attempt an answer to this compound question.
In its primary application this passage is to be seen in context of the unholy alliance between Jehoshaphat and Ahab. The alliance is unholy not simply because they worked together, but that in doing so, the God of Heaven was disregarded, slighted and disrespected. Although Jehoshaphat initially asked for a true prophet of the Lord, he did not insist on adhering to the prophet's declaration - showing greater respect and preference to Ahab's hired actors posing as prophets. A similar compromise occurs in many a marriage with an unbeliever.
For what certain alliances require (Jehoshaphat working with Ahab, or what obtains for successful marriage unions) it is a foregone conclusion that the believer plans to compromise his/her faith, or be dishonest to the vows of doing his/her best to make the partnership work. This occurs with many marriages, jobs, business partnerships, social affiliations. But is this to say we should have no dealings with those who are unbelievers period?

Here's a totally different spin to this passage: God makes it rain on both the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45) - He gives them humanitarian aid ("Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you." Luke 6: 27), not direct or overt support in dishonouring God; Jesus did hang out with sinners and publicans (Matt 9: 11). Oh, but He didn't participate in their activities; He sought only to disciple them. And as it happened with the woman with the issue of blood His purpose was to change them through His contact with them. And although He's a friend that sticks closer than a brother, He wants more to be our Saviour, because as our Friend that's what He realizes we need most now - a Saviour.
The direct message of the passage then is that we should in no way or form facilitate or support anyone who wantonly and intentionally disrespects our God (don't help the wicked). Also, we should show no admiration, respect, or relish for anyone who disrespects God. We do this a lot in the movies and television shows we watch, the literature we read, the friends we hang out with.
I'm glad however that Jesus didn't take the implication of this text out of its proper context to alienate a sinner like me. Marvellous Grace!

This reading is based on 2 Chronicles 19, in keeping with the Reivived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.  To read or listen to this passage and read other related blogs please go here.