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Why Aren’t Christians Seen as Loving?

Why Aren’t Christians Seen as Loving?

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  (John 13:35)

“‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’… ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (from Luke 28: 27, 29)

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…” (Luke 6:27)

The primary distinguishing feature of a Christian should be how they love those who agree with them…and those who don’t.  Christians should easily recognizable by their mind-boggling love for those who despise them.  It shouldn’t be difficult to tell who the Christians are in the neighborhood or at work.

So, why are Christians in America not known for their love?  Instead, studies consistently show that Christians are seen by most as judgmental, by many as hateful, and by only a few as readily identifiable in a crowd.

What Should Love Look Like?

Scripture characterizes love as a verb.  Love is something we do – not just something we feel.  Biblical love is hard – it is not passive or lazy.  1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 describe a love that is quite the opposite of our natural, human inclination toward self-preservation.  Jesus modeled a love that defies explanation – a script written from the beginning of time where the Author dies an excruciating death to save everyone from imminent peril.  The Lord could have chosen 1,000 easier ways for Christ to shed His blood to atone for our sins, but He revealed a plan to the prophets well in advance that involved His own Son being “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” to demonstrate His overwhelming love for us.  Christ’s love, which the Great Commandment calls us to emulate, entails:

  1. Sacrifice – What if a friend died to save you?  How would you live differently from that point on?  How would you act toward your (deceased) friend’s family to show your appreciation?  In that light, the fact that Christ died for us should spur Christians to a life of radical generosity, showing our love for Him and His children.
  2. Mercy – Jesus healed, fed and forgave at every opportunity.  Jesus continually emphasized the importance of compassion toward the poor, sick and lost – not just in words, but in actions.
  3. Obedience – Jesus states plainly in John 14 that “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.… Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching”.  Obedience and love are joined at the hip.  We obey out of love for Christ and never in a futile, conditional attempt to “earn” or “deserve” salvation.
  4. Selflessness – Philippians 2 associates love with putting the interests of others above our own, a concept so counter to our natures that it may require a lifetime of sanctification to learn to “love our neighbors as ourselves”.
  5. Unity – Philippians 2 also joins the call in John 17 for absolute, complete unity of all believers in mind and spirit.  “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)
  6. Forgiveness – Jesus linked love and forgiveness inextricably in His encounter with the woman who washed His feet with perfume at the dinner.  “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)  If we realized just how many sins Jesus has forgiven for us, we would not be so quick to judge others.  “’Now which of them will love him more?’…Simon replied, ‘I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.’” (Luke 7:42-43)
  7. Unconditional – Agape love is love for God and others with no expectations or strings attached.  Given our sinful natures, the purity of Agape isn’t possible apart from Christ through the Holy Spirit.

How Does Today’s Culture Define “Love”?

In American culture today, love is viewed less as a verb and more as a noun.  Rather than something we do, it’s something we feel.  Because Agape is unattainable for non-believers, they settle for love in lesser forms:

  1. Phileo – This brotherly love is found in the warmth and affection between friends.  Companionship provides the sense of community that so many desire, but Phileo can be conditional and never extends to those we do not like.  Mark Zuckerberg thinks Facebook can replace churches because he sees the Church’s role reduced to providing community.
  2. Storge – “Suburbia” values providing for our families at the expense of all others.  Parents have no time to care for poor because they’re working late nights all week to finance a desired quality of life for their families, and then run from soccer games to cheerleading practice all weekend.  It is hard to argue with this family-oriented form of love, but it leaves little room for Agape.
  3. Eros – Our TV, radio and Internet “airwaves” are filled with references to this sexually-charged form of love, which is better coined “infatuation” in a society that endorses and encourages premarital sex.
  4. Tolerance – Under the guise of love, compassion and justice, society vehemently defends the right of each and every individual to determine his/her own moral compass and rejects anyone who defers to a higher moral authority than themselves.  Deifying each other’s false god of “self” is not love – it’s idol worship (worship of the creation and not the Creator).
  5. Freedom – In America today, any attempts by Christians to point out sin is seen as judgmental or fear-mongering – a form of hate, not love.  Although enslaved to sin, non-believers demand to remain free from the imposition of Christian values, truth or morality.  In the name of “love” (by their definition), they love and defend self at all costs.
  6. Emotions – Ask most non-Christians in the U.S. to define “love” and you are likely to hear descriptions of feelings and human emotions, not the action-oriented version in 1 Corinthians.
  7. Social Justice – One area where Millennials view love as a verb is in fighting for human rights, which they believe Christians frequently violate (by advocating Biblical standards of behavior).

Love comes from the one true God, not from the world. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)  Apart from Christ, society can only conjure up counterfeit, cheap imitations.

Why Doesn’t Society See Christians as Loving?

Yes, the world has a distorted view of love.  Christians do not live according to the secular definition of love, so we don’t appear loving when looked at through that filter.  However, there is merit to certain aspects of society’s perception of love – like Phileo, Tolerance and Social Justice.  Those correspond loosely to the Biblical principles of Unity, Forgiveness and Mercy.  Are Christians doing those components of love well?  If not, then we’re not living out society’s definition of love – or ours.

The Bible says our love for one another should shock, amaze and attract non-believers to Christ.  Yet if what once was attractive about Christianity when we treated love as a verb (i.e. action and compassion toward all men and women, even “enemies) is no longer distinguishable from society’s view of love as a noun (i.e. positive feelings and emotions toward those who are like-minded), then Christianity will repel non-believers.  That’s the situation our faith finds itself in today – one where culture has impacted the Church more than churches are impacting culture.

In other words, society expects Christians to love like them or to show them what true love looks like.  But if believers don’t exhibit either the version of “love” that society espouses or that Christ modeled, then they will be loving in a way that others do not understand or appreciate.  In that event, we can expect a continued decline in Church growth, influence, impact and perception in our nation.  The segue away from the Biblical definition of love began as institution-building replaced disciple-building in recent decades.  “Church” came to be known as a place with evangelism entrusted primarily to “professionals” and members tasked only with inviting people to come to an “event”.  To attract and retain members, church leaders lowered expectations and no longer held members to the Great Commission mandate.  Rather than equipping disciples to go out (and follow Jesus’ example of leading with compassion and then telling them who He is), the focus shifted internally – as did the objects of our “love”.

Accordingly, society observes the allegiance Christians have to their particular church, pastor and fellow members, but not their Unity (as one universal body), Forgiveness (of those who think differently) or Mercy (for those in need or oppressed):

  1. Are We United? – The world sees our splits, factions and denominations.  However, it is not seeing much collaboration across churches around causes of great importance within our cities.  Nor are we demonstrating love for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering around the globe.
  2. Are We Forgiving? – Our lack of unity spills over into a perceived self-righteousness and judgmentalism toward those outside of our immediate congregation, inadvertently redefining “neighbor” by confining love to a narrower audience than Jesus intended.
  3. Are We Merciful? – Even within our church families, we aren’t modeling the love and sacrifice that led the church in Acts to sell their possessions to ensure no one suffered for lack of food or clothes.  Churches in America no longer lead the way in caring for the poor outside of their “4 walls” as they did for 1900 years when churches were the food bank and homeless shelter.

Love is action, not just words.  Love is the essence of our faith.  The perception of Christians will change when our love of God extends and overflows naturally and unconditionally beyond our fellow believers to all mankind.  The culture war raging in America today can only be won when churches stop building institutions that tend to fight an air war (dropping verbal bombs) and start building disciples who engage in a ground war using love and compassion as their chosen weapons.

It’s Your Turn…

Are there any other reasons why you believe society does not associate church or Christians with the word “love”?  What can be done to restore that reputation and lead more people back toward Jesus?


28 Responses

  1. Churches no longer care for those outside the 4 walls of their church? That’s a laugh. Many don’t even care for the poor who are regular members of the church. At least that’s been my experience, especially with the charismatic movement of which I was a part for over 20 years.

  2. Yes, the chuch today is into itself, doesn’t care about the poor, the hungry , the humeles or the broken hearted. Very greedy always asking for money, twisting the bible. Puting the people under the law to create fear and still their money.Shame on this pastors and leaders that are using the name of God to get rich and give nothing back.They feel entitle to take and take but they do not want to be bother helping others. Unaprochable primadonas have corrupted christianity.The Lord is not impressed and soon very soon the church is going to be judge. Judgement stars at the house of the Lord .

  3. Yes, the chuch today is into itself, doesn’t care about the poor, the hungry , the homeless or the broken hearted. Very greedy, always asking for money, twisting the bible. Puting the people under the law to create fear and still their money.Shame on these pastors and leaders that are using the name of God to get rich and give nothing back.They feel entitle to take and take but they do not want to be bother helping others. Unaprochable primadonas have corrupted christianity.The Lord is not impressed and soon very soon the church is going to be judge. Judgement stars at the house of the Lord .

  4. I disagree that the church does not care about others and that it is judgemental. This is logic used by the non- churched, or those who rationalize why they are in denial of Christ, and for those who gain by criticizing the church. We forget that those in the church, even those that belong to a church are all sinners still? The church is a hospital for sinners and I don’t believe any church goer or Christ follower, would disagree. That said, churches are very involved in supporting their community, their congregational needs, and overseas missions, without doubt…that is loving others that is putting others in front of yourself through giving and extra, sacrificial financial support, and through sharing personal time to assist. All this chatter about the church not being loving is far exaggerated. It has become a pattern of evil to destroy the church just like some are trying to destroy America. The difference between the church in the 1900s and today is that government has taken on a larger role of helping the poor, and likewise the government and its many supporting agencies are supported by those who WORK and pay taxes to support that effort. The government has actually restricted the church in some cases. The church has demonstrated an acceptance of duty to others and that is out of Christian love and obedience to serve and is a compassion for others demostrated through sharing your earnings. Likewise churches continue to support missions, and calls for help during natural disasters, and work to reach out to those lost in their sin and who are burdened by that sin. Baptisims are alive and well!
    If you want to say the church is viewed as judgemental to sell that message, please know that saying it , writing it, does not mean that it is true… many know it is fake news, and the church is Growing in numbers daily, despite the postings of a few. The church is open to all sinners looking for a new life in Christ who is there to help you despite your burdens and despite this evil world we ALL face daily. Walk Anew with those in the church who are just like you…don’t believe the fake news being written to distract you from your true purpose.

    1. I agree with Larry D Collins. The churches all around me are doing God’s work and sharing Christ with those near and far. Get involved. It is not about just one hour on Sunday.

  5. My wife likes to say, “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. That is to say when you have a myopic point of view, how you think determines what you see and you react in accordance.

    Two comments on this page rail against the people of the Church as self-centered and uncaring.

    The other two comments argue that the Church is caring, alive and well and doing the work of the Gospel.

    I guess my wife is right. It depends on your point of view.

    In fact, both are right.

    But, having read some of Jim Morgan’s blogs (articles), I have to say that he is making some very accurate observations about the postmodern Church and the postmodern Christian. We, the Church, need to take notice.

    One theologian said that one of the great tragedies with Christians today is that they have lost their humility and have stopped seeking God, daily. When presented with a Biblical Truth or Calling, they tend to say, “Yah, yah, I get it. I’ve already done that” and they walk away.

    The Church, at large, is doing some great philanthropic stuff. But, the example of Christ is largely missing. The Biblical model is missing. Christ is missing.

    It seems we in the Church are ‘always learning but never coming to the Truth’ and we say, “But Lord, didn’t I _____________ in your Name?” And He says, depart from me, I don’t know you.

    Thanks J Morgan. Keep it up. (I am Lead pastor for Whitestone Fellowship, a small (very small) online ministry, trying to establish Home Fellowships to teach, reach, inform, inspire and ignite the Church (organic) to action. Pray for us, please as I pray for you. (

    1. Michael – I appreciate your insightful and encouraging comments. Your prayers mean a great deal to me – and I’ll be in prayer for you as well. Good to be walking alongside you in calling pastors to restore the Church to its biblical, world-changing roots.

  6. Very helpful. I believe acts of unity, forgiveness and mercy do cover all acts of true love.

    I’m a Unitarian, among other nuances of my personal theology, so according to conventional Christianity I’m not only a heretic, but bound for hell. Mahatma Gandhi practiced agape, as far as I understand, but he is also widely regarded as a non-believer, bound for hell.
    My family members are largely devout Catholics, and in the opinion of many Protestants also on shaky ground in heaven.
    It seems to me there is always some doctrinal test to pass, and without a *personally* compelling reason a rational person won’t accept a new doctrine.
    This, in my opinion, is what keeps Christianity from the work of Christ.

    Can you not love God without agreeing with the semantics of evangelical theology?

  7. The church in America is very diluted with non born again people, people who don’t love at all call themselves Christians and use the Bible in a twisted way to condemn

  8. Because you are on a metaphysical sports team that is solely concerned with winning at any cost. You like to feel right and justified and that you have thrown your lot in with the biggest, baddest god on the block who can beat up all the other gods. You have staked out large plots of human experience (love, togetherness, compassion, connection, etc) and you have laid claim to it as if these things belonged to you and yours alone and everyone else can go burn in hell forever because they didn’t pick your imaginary leader.

    It’s because you’ve been worshipping the devil this entire time, but the devil is so clever he’s tricked you into believing that your hateful hearts belong to Jesus. They don’t. When you die, the heaviness in your souls will draw you to the place you belong, and frankly I am sorry that is the situation but you’ve made up your minds and nothing can save you now.

  9. Jim, you ask a good question and you have valid points. I agree that the church is influenced by the culture rather than the church influencing the culture. I personally believe the reason is that we as Christians stop at the milk and never get to the milk: the milk being love. Leaders will say love God or love your neighbor but love is rarely defined. If it is defined, it is through the law. However, because the scriptures teach love many people understand love and act on it. Nevertheless the problem lies that we do not understand nor claim an understanding of love as expressed through the life and teachings of Christ. Also, we do not interpret scriptures through the life of Christ.
    When was the last time a discipleship class had a long discussion about love? For that matter, why don’t seminaries teach a course on love so that ministers could have deep discussions and form opinions on love based on those discussions. Meeting the need of people is correct but I believe it goes further. Most people when they encountered Christ with faith went away better. Wouldn’t it be good if Christians encountering others could send them away better?
    love and grace

  10. I agree with Larry Collins. It should also be noted the largest Churches, even those with celebrity pastors give multi-millions of dollars to missions each year, including resources to help those in their own communities, around the U.S, and the world. I won’t mention names or churches, so research this yourself. And, most of them invite people to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD. Despite the fact that there are a few false prophets in world who put themselves off as Christian leaders. Certainly, most gospel preachers (even of Charismatic and Pentecostal backgrounds) are not in that category even though we may not agree with all of their positions on matters of scriptures, especially prosperity which is what most other Christians seem to get inflamed about. They are imperfect like you and me, yet to judge them all as heinous unbelievers who are just plain corrupt is erroneous and shows that many of us still have a beam in our eye while trying to take the splinter out of these preacher’s eyes. Your research will find they and the Churches they lead are not as unloving and greedy as many suppose.

    If we pray for them as 1Timothy 2 says we should for all in authority then the LORD can correct any flaws in their character or actions and we probably would stop denigrating them so much instead of letting the Holy Spirit progressively work His will in them.

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    and warning signs and symptoms that will point out abuse.
    In common, the suspected AAS person ought to be approached as with every other suspected substance
    abuser—as a person in danger for doubtlessly critical medical and psychiatric
    Testosterone is a hormone that is produced by the
    testes in males and is of paramount importance to muscle development, amongst many different issues.

    These products additionally enhance the body’s pure functionality to produce
    this hormone. The Fok1 C-allele results in a truncated protein, three amino acids shorter than the wildtype T-variant.
    Subjects with the T-allele, i.e. expressing the
    protein with decrease exercise, have been proven to have increased risk of hormonal dependent cancers, similar to ovarian and
    prostate cancer .
    Alvarado discussesRoss et al ,Ellis and Nyborg and different papers discussing the supposed
    greater testosterone of blacks when in comparison with whites and attempts to use
    a life history framework to elucidate larger incidences of prostate cancer
    in black males. He first notes that dietary status influences testosterone production which must be no surprise to anyone.

    For occasion, he states that differences in nutrition might clarify variations in testosterone between Western and non-Western people , however that this
    has no effect within Western international locations (which is inaccurate as I’ll get
    to later). Personally, I suppose there could also be one thing to Kerr and Obel’s arguments of their paper (feminist/patriarchy garbage apart) because it’s primarily based on anatomy and physiology which is what we see on the sector.

    With the exception of beta agonists (e.g. ephedrine and Clenbuterol) and opiates manipulation of these would not
    appear useful in bodybuilding. DHT, which doesn’t aromatize, has been extensively shown to trigger inhibition of testosterone manufacturing.
    In Jim’s case, androgen use was moderately heavy, and androgen alone would appear the cause
    of the inhibition. Sadder but, the polarity will trigger findings of value that will
    shield towards harm to be obscured— the normal
    cost given to physicians.

  13. Right now it sounds like WordPress is the top blogging platform available right now.
    (from what I’ve read) Is that what you are using on your blog?

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  19. Thanks for finally talking about > Why Aren't Christians Seen as Loving?
    | Meet The Need Blog < Loved it!

  20. While this is a great question to ask, Christians then guess at best rather than ask nonChristians how they are perceived and why. The worst I heard refused to look at the 2×4 in their eye, and justify it, saying nonC’s just don’t recognize it because it is tough love, like discipling a child. There is nothing tough about pointing out the sins of others while ignoring the 2×4 in your own eye But conservative Christians are the vocal, and know for condemning others while easily forgiving themselves. They are dishonest. But the minute love comes, the first and only thing that they refer to is pointing out the sins not just of other Christians, but even nonChristians. The blog claims only Christians know Christ’s love, but the Meme “There is no hate like Christian Love” rings true because too many act more like Modern Day Pharisees.

    I’m gay. Am I Christian? Depends on who you ask. Coming out in the 80s, countless people quoted Leviticus, told me that God hated me, calls me an abomination, and if we were to follow God’s will, I would be executed. That implied that that I should take me own life, and I tried several times. Gay bashing was common, often went unpunished, or said, “They bring it upon themselves,” justifying murder. Then AIDS appeared, and rather than compassion, declared God’s Judgement as people lost their friends. 20,000 people died before it was even mentioned by the president. The the church was wanting to expel anyone gay in their Church, and debating whether gays and lesbians were worthy to come into a church. A number of vocal Christians supported discrimination.

    My roommate is from Uganda. Scott Lively said he was going to Uganda to share the Gospel, but his main focus was spreading propaganda of debunked “research” claiming gays are child molesters, spread AIDs, etc. As a result, government officials not only made homosexuality illegal but punishable by death. The environment became very dangerous for the gay community, and he showed me deep scars where he had been jumped a number of times, and had to leave the country. While in Kenya, he met a woman who was being raped in her house by a man, and when she screamed for help, realized her parents were cheering him on. The mom let him in to cure her from being a lesbian.

    When the two women went to get a Wedding Cake from Sweet Cakes, they were refused. They left, but their mother who had them make a cake for her wedding, went back to try to persuade them, when the owners quoted Leviticus, calling the couple an abomination, hated by God. The mother cried all the way home, but the couple simply filed a discrimination report with the labor board and thought that was the end. The Klines posted the complaint on Facebook, which included the couple’s address and phone number, and they began to get death threats. This also put custody of their two foster daughter into question, because the death threats created a dangerous environment. The Lines left all that at, claimed they attacked for their religious beliefs, and ran to every news outlet they could, leaving out some really crucial information about the death threats that would take the daughters away. Not once mentioned it or admitted it with remorse, but took the role as victim, and made a great deal of money at the expense of the couple.

    And most recently, the lack of love was said to me in the hackneyed way:
    In Christ, I love you, but I hate your sin.
    I said, Thank you. And in Christ, I love you, too. And I guess, I hate your sin, too.
    “My sin???! What sin have I committed?!!!”

    Where should I start? Thinking you don’t have sin? Being offended that I assume you have sin? Your self-righteousness that puts you above me? Your laziness and refusal to listen to all of the research that is done to show what the bible really says and doesn’t say about homosexuality, a word added to the bible in 1945? Or the obsession with homosexuality, and ignoring the fruit of the spirit and the cruxt of the entire NT, which is about Love, Mercy, Kindness, Forgiveness, and Humility?

    So, when I see an atheist show the fruit of the spirit and so many Christians not, I start to question the religion. I see meanspiritedness, haughtiness of being morally superior, unfairly judging nonChristians as evil, they have become the thing they profess to condemn and their self-righteousness blind them to it.

    Someone asked how I will answer God on Judgement about why I should be let into heaven, and I said i would tell God I don’t deserve it. Another told me that I won’t inherit the Kingdom because of a verse that really condemns everyone. I imagine God saying to me, “Even when you are pushed away, mistreated, told I hate you and want you dead, you’ve still stayed, which is kind of a miracle.

    So you want an answer to the question? Then listen to people’s stories. It goes beyond “not loving” to a point where you have to wonder do they serve God, or Satan with their cruelty.

    I was recently in a church for a memorial service, thinking of the irony of the space called Sanctuary, because i no longer see churches as a safe space, but a place where I will have to out up my fists in a defense position, prepping for attack.

  21. The church’s lack of unity, lack of a proper apostolic division of bisphorics with a proper balance of influence (a problem started by the Popes and brought to fruit by congregationalists) means that you can’t actually do anything about the bad people in your churches. You can’t excommunicate them for how they abuse outsiders and each other. You can’t take away their Jesus-Card. Because of this, everyone who calls himself a Christian and fits into a loose doctrinal definition of Christian is representing Christ in the court of world opinion. You can’t pronounce Westboro Baptist Church anathema.

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