Christians are often on the front lines of relief efforts, as they should be—valuing life, helping to mitigate the consequences of living in a sin-cursed world (such as disease), and demonstrating the love and mercy of our Lord and example, Jesus Christ. Even now, during the coronavirus pandemic, ministries like Matthew 25 Ministries and Samaritan’s Purse are sending aid in many practical ways. Often the help is greeted with thanks, sometimes with indifference. But recent headlines reveal a skeptical eye has been focusing on Samaritan’s Purse efforts in NYC and have many—even those who don’t necessarily share the same biblical views—reeling in disbelief.1 The irony is that hateful people are shouting things such as “help, not hate,”2 hoping to expel Christians working to alleviate the strain on hospitals by treating COVID-19 patients with ventilators in Central Park tents.
Who’s the Hater?
What kind of person would reject or question life-saving medical aid from someone who disagreed with them on sexuality?
What kind of person would reject or question life-saving medical aid from someone who disagreed with them on sexuality? The problem is that some have a worldview that intrinsically ties our humanity with our sexuality. This assumed tie is false. Our humanity is based on the fact that we are image-bearers of God, created specially and distinct from anything else on this earth to have fellowship with him and one another. While God, as our Creator, has a plan for sexuality that honors him as a symbol of Christ and his love for his people, he didn’t ask the people he healed if they agreed with him. He did tell some to “go and sin no more” (John 5:14, 8:11). Though 1 Corinthians 6:9 is clear that “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God,” verse 11 of that chapter says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
And that is love: to serve others despite their differences, to tell others that there is deliverance from our bondage to sin. In a culture that has abandoned the biblical knowledge of the recent past, people don’t understand that they are lost in their sin. After years of hearing the incomplete (thus false!) gospel that “Jesus loves you” and “Jesus died for you” without also hearing, “Go and sin no more,” people think they are in good standing with their Creator. I’ve even heard people ask “Why?” when they’re told that Jesus died for them. If God loves us, why did Jesus have to die? We have to realize that our sin is rebellion in the face of our merciful and loving Creator. Genesis 3:4–7 records how sin separated man from God:
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (emphasis added)
Adam and Eve believed their Maker, who had lovingly given them life, put them in a beautiful garden, gave them food and a harmless environment to live in, was withholding something good from them. They believed a lie and disobeyed the one command that God had given them for their own good. They clearly wanted to be their own gods, thus rejecting the true God who had made them. He gave them life, but they chose shame and death, though they had been warned: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Now we all have Adam’s sin nature and the inclination to rebel—and we have his death sentence.
Isaiah 53 says that Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” It was our sin that put him there to suffer. Sin is a horrible offense to God! If God could just look the other way, why indeed would Jesus have had to die?
The New “Hate”: Go and Sin No More?
No one wants to be confronted with their sin.
And this is where the hate comes from. No one wants to be confronted with their sin. We don’t want to admit that we have a need. We don’t want to see ourselves as unworthy of anything but God’s wrath. Jesus had to take that wrath for us, and he paid for it dearly. So why did he do it? Because he wanted to purchase a people—to break our chains of bondage to the sin he suffered for, to free us from our death sentence and welcome us into his family. And no other person in history has claimed to have broken those chains and offered us a sure future. This exclusivity of Christ’s claims also brings hate. There are no other ways. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
And see these words from Christ himself about hate:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:23)
Whoever hates me hates my Father also. (John 15:24)
If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. (John 15:25)
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:25)
Truth and Love
Are you still a hater? All anyone needs to do is accept Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and “sin no more.” Do Christians still sin? Yes, we’re human, but as we grow in Christ’s family, we are more and more enabled to resist our own sinful nature until we finally shed this sinful body. How can we willfully continue in sin knowing what it cost our Savior?
Scripture says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, emphasis added). The people working in Samaritan’s Purse aren’t asking about gender identity or sexual preferences before treating patients. They’re there to heal people and save lives regardless of what patients are doing with their life or whether they love or even hate Jesus, in whose name Christians are serving. And they are putting themselves at risk to do so. In this exemplary work, they are mirroring what Christ did for us some 2,000 years ago in laying down his life for people who hated him (although let’s pray that none of them or other medical workers pay that ultimate price). For those affected, we can also pray with compassion and concern—even the haters, as Christ did, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).