All of the ickiness we have witnessed in the church over the last decade has begun to feel like a very dangerous wrestling match--an ugly game of truth or dare with a twist. We've seen congregations split, people leave the church, even hurting souls driven away from the Gospel because of this "game", and the more I've studied on it, the more I am coming to the conclusion that Satan is having a field day watching God's children bicker and divide. It seems like there is a huge gap between the "truth" camp and the "love" camp, and ironically little wiggle room in the middle.
Why must there be "sides"? Why must we choose truth over love if we want to be counted among the "faithful" (here among earthly brethren, that is) or eschew an adherence to unwavering truth and strict doctrinal lines if we are to cling to the love Christ showed toward the lost and His followers alike? WHY can't the two intermingle? Why have we not figured out how to "speak the truth in love" as Ephesians 4:15 exhorts?
I can't find a single passage of scripture that places one of these virtues above the other in importance. I can't even find an inference. I haven't been able to come up with one example of Christ or the apostles or early church leaders teaching truth "at all costs", nor have I found a single instance where love trumped any of the other things God expects of His people. Incidentally, I have not found a single mention of the modern idea of tolerance or acceptance of sinful behavior in an effort to "love the sinner", but there are obvious references to Jesus meeting the typical un-loved and un-lovable and showing them love...all while keeping a spirit of truth. The woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery are two that immediately come to mind--Jesus had every right to condemn these women (the Law, which was still in effect at that time, certainly did), but what did He do? He loved them...but He loved them in such a way not to mottle or water down the truth. He never compromised truth OR love.
Our society, bent on "tolerance", is making this an ever-increasing challenge. So are those who would water down the truth in favor of love. But do we have any right to handle things in un-loving ways for the sake of truth? The only example of Jesus Christ doing anything we could possibly perceive as "un-loving" is his cleansing of the temple, driving out the moneychangers from the place of sacred worship. But...was that un-loving? What did He do AFTER the tables had been overturned? It is interesting that the only people who apparently grated our Lord's nerves were the religious elite and those who used the worship assembly to further their own agenda. We have plenty of those folks today as well...perhaps we need to be doing some long, hard searching of Scripture and praying for God's guidance in dealing with these people...because if we are going to follow Christ's example, we will have to deal with them. In love, but not forsaking truth.
Challenging quandry, but nothing God can't handle! After all, He is both Love AND Truth!