Wasted Love

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Have you ever met people “of the world” who exemplify sacrificial and sincere love? Of course you have, so have I. I know lots of people who claim no affiliation to Christianity who have very loving marriages, loving families, and who serve their communities and friends with a love that would readily lay down their lives for others. In fact, I know people outside church circles who would put to shame most Christians in the love department, present company included.

When I think of ultimate demonstrations of love, I think of situations like 9/11 where countless rescue workers gave their lives (or health) to save others, with no thought of their own safety or future. Many of them were young parents with little ones at home or babies on the way. They fearlessly headed up into the burning, swaying towers that day to save as many people as possible, so that those they saved might return home to their families alive.

I think of Greg Mortensen (last blog entry), a simple guy who has given his life and resources to building schools for poor Muslim children who are the victims of war. I think of Gandhi, a devout Hindu, who gave his adult life to promoting tolerance, peace, and goodwill among his fellow countrymen, regardless of religion. I think of countless young people, selflessly serving our country’s military in the midst of war, putting their lives at stake daily. Even though I am not an advocate of war, I completely acknowledge the fact that most of these men and women are sacrificially serving our country out of sincere love.

Along those lines, I recently came across this video of a man who serves the poor in his southeast India city. What is remarkable about this story is that the man is a Brahmin Hindu, the highest “caste” who is not supposed to associate with “untouchables,” or poor people. Yet for love, he has laid aside his job and personal comforts, likely facing intense pressures and ridicule from societal superstitions and stigmas, to do what he knows is the right thing to do—to love and serve the least of these.

Obviously many of these people who are serving and laying down their lives for others are not “believers.” After all, they didn’t say the sinner’s prayer and they don’t go to church on Sunday. So here are my questions:

  • Is their extreme love for mankind a waste?
  • Will God still punish these people with the wicked?
  • Does God turn a blind eye to their love and refuse to reward them?
  • Did those who died in service of humanity give up their short lives in vain, only to be lost forever?

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Peter said, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Do these verses actually mean something other than what they say? And if Jesus actually meant what He said about love being more important than anything else, what does that mean for all those people of the world who know how to love better than I do?

Personally, I think we’ve got most of it wrong. I think we’ve totally misinterpreted the character of God, making Him in the image of man. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be pointing out some of the seeming contradictions we believe about God’s character based on traditions of men. Perhaps it will whet your appetite for my next bomb…er, um, book, coming out in January. It’s going to ruffle a few feathers, that’s for sure. But maybe, just maybe, for some of you, it will be a taste of Living Water.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on how you think God will handle the loving lifestyle and sacrifices made by others who are not professing Christians…

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  • This is a very good article and would actually be a great sermon, too. You illustrate this verse with great contemporary illustrates. Makes me think about what it means for my life to really love as Jesus loves. Good job.

    • jferwerd

      Thanks Warren. Nice to have you stop by!

  • truebeliever53

    It is going to be interesting to see what kind ( if any ) responces you get. I am not good at recalling verse by verse but I do know what the scritures say about this. Seeing how we are flawed by design and only a few chosen.( In this age.) In the next age, when all will have a chance to know Christ and His turth, the good that they had accounted them will be taken into account when they come before our Lord. Even Sodom and Gamorra will have a better place than Israel.

    • jferwerd

      Wow Damian. You sound really new age! ;)

      • truebeliever53

        Okay tell me. Is being new age good or bad. All I Know is what I know.

        • jferwerd

          LOL…I was totally teasing you…

          • truebeliever53

            okay! okay!
            I have been waiting for a good comment. where have all your readers gone that give you a good discussion?

          • jferwerd

            Trust me, in a couple months, I will probably be swamped with comments. It will be nice if any of them are good, which is why you need to hang with me.

  • Brian

    Julie:
    I'll try for a long story short, our friend Tom helped us one Christmas, Tom wasn't one who went to Church, but he always listened when God called him forward. A driver for FedEx I remember Tom telling me he drove by a local Cemetary, every day this little old man would sit by his wifes grave. One hot day Tom felt the Lord leading him to stop and provide this little old man with some water to drink. Tom was suprised when he found out this little old man had not had anything to drink in many hours. I will fill you in on the second part in another post.

    • jferwerd

      That is another very cool story…can't wait to hear how it turned out.

  • Brian

    Ok back to Christmas, when he helped us out. Tom owns a HD Motorcycle, Marian came across a cookie Jar with Santa Clause riding a HD. Well need less to say, it was something we needed to get for Tom. We purchased it and on Christmas day that year we were invited accross the street and with all his family present gifted Tom his Santa on the Harley.
    What took place after that was nothing less than the hand of God at work. When his Mom saw the cookie Jar she was floored, see when Tom was a little kid she owned that same Cookie Jar but it had been broken many years ago.
    And since that Christmas many years ago that Santa on his Harley comes out and sits on his TV a reminder of not only our friendship but Tom's belief that God is truly in control and how greatful his is for all God has given him. .

    • jferwerd

      Very cool story Brian. Love those little orchestrated events that assure us of God's love and work in our lives.

  • Nicci

    WOW Julie…I am so looking forward to this discussion!!!

    • jferwerd

      Hey Nicci, hope you will follow along and then read my next book. I could use another Amazon review! :D I'll be giving out free books again.

  • nicholshelen

    Hi Julie! This is a discussion I have a great interest in because while growing up I was taught that only Seventh-day Adventists would go to heaven. My father's mother, Grandma Odell was the most loving accepting person I knew. She did not go to church, but she say her prayers every night. She was not wealthy by any means, but always gave us kids a huge Christmas. I prayed every night for her to become an SDA, but she never did. ____Finally, as an adult I was able to see the falacy of that logic. There are millions of people who live their entire lives without knowing about God or Jesus. I too had friends who called themselves athiest but lived exemplary God-like lives.____

  • nicholshelen

    So here is what I believe. God created man in his image. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey their will was now under the command of Satan. However, that did not change the core of the human being which has the God-like charactaristics He created in us. It is in that inner being that God speaks to us. And we have the choice to listen to him or go the way of Satan. God therefore can speak to anyone whether or not they call it God. Sometimes people who are athiest have been so damaged by those who profess to be God's representatives that they cannot call the good they find i themselves "God." But they are making the choice to listen to the God-like calling within. I believe these people are as covered by the blood of Jesus as those of us who sin in other ways.

    • jferwerd

      That is a very interesting perspective. I hope you will keep reading along each week and contribute to the discussion. I also hope you will read my surprise book coming out in January!! I think you will be very interested in it.

  • Carrie_L_Knight

    I can't wait for your book to be finished! So exciting!

  • Megan

    I can't claim to have an answer, or to necessarily agree with many of your readers, but I'd like to share my family's experience on the subject. My father is an atheist. He is also an inherently GOOD man. He taught my sister and I how important it is to be honest, caring, giving, accepting, upright and moral people. He saw that many religious people only did good works because they believed that they would be divinely punished in the end if they did not. He thought, and I agree, that such a deed can hardly be called good. He often said that CHOOSING to be good (honest, loving, etc) had more value than being coerced by your pastor.
    So, to your questions:
    " * Is their extreme love for mankind a waste?"
    Absolutely not! Every bit of goodness in this world must be acknowledged, and respected. All the more so if the place from which those great actions spring is a place of love and not guilt or coercion.

    " * Will God still punish these people with the wicked?
    * Does God turn a blind eye to their love and refuse to reward them?"
    I don't know and neither does any other human. Does the bible not say :"There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? " James 4:12

    " * Did those who died in service of humanity give up their short lives in vain, only to be lost forever?"
    A life given in selfless service to humanity (or in protection of any of the earth's creatures and lands we are charged with stewarding) is not lost. It is a contribution to the continuance of the good in the world.

    "Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Peter said, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8)."
    This seems pretty clear, doesn't it? Jesus says "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). He really doesn't equivocate. Love, don't judge, don't analyze. Love.

    • jferwerd

      Megan, I love your thoughts here. I can tell you are a deep thinker and I am glad you made this post. Your dad sounds like an amazing and loving man. I wish I could hear more of your story.

      • Thanks for your lovely post Julie!

        I remember discussing this with you as well some time back, and here's a little story from my side as to why I found your views a comfort to me:

        A friend of mine once said "I have a wonderful grandfather. He's kind, caring, generous, honest and loving. But he's not a Christian. When I asked my pastor what happens to him when he dies, my pastor told me that he'd go to hell. It's just not right!"

        It's because of this that my friend doesn't wish to believe in Christianity and hopes instead that the Bible is wrong – he simply doesn't want to believe that his grandfather cannot possibly be saved. After all, if he is a good man, has led a long and fulfilling (and some might even say blessed) life being a Buddhist, why should he even consider turning to another religion?

        Your post sparked off a series of thoughts, and I ended up writing a post on my blog <a href="http:// <a> (www.critiqalchristianity.blogspot.com)” target=”_blank”> target="_blank"> <a href="http:// <a href="http://(www.critiqalchristianity.blogspot.com)“” target=”_blank”>(www.critiqalchristianity.blogspot.com)“ target=”_blank”> <a href="http://(www.critiqalchristianity.blogspot.com)” target=”_blank”>(www.critiqalchristianity.blogspot.com) branching from yours instead :P In it, I ended off with the final question:

        Is doing good a complete waste if you're not a Christian, since you'll just die and go to hell anyway? Who is it that defines 'good' and 'evil' anyway?

        I don't have the answers myself, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! :)

        • jferwerd

          Hi Chris. I love it that you are a deep thinker. You and I have had a few discussions along these lines, and I believe the book coming out in January will help you connect these dots. It is hard to do in a few emails, but a book…now that's another story! (no pun intended, LOL). You ask good questions, and I see God drawing you into the "truth that makes you free." Don't give up the pursuit. He has placed these questions in your heart for a reason.

          Btw…for some reason your link did not work. Here it is again (or just type it into the URL). It is a great post and I recommend you all take a minute to read it: http://www.critiqalchristianity.blogspot.com/

  • Jason

    Julie, I took the time to respond more in-depth to your article. Your words begin and end with "//"

    //Have you ever met people “of the world” who exemplify sacrificial and sincere love? Of course you have, so have I.//

    This is due to God’s “common grace” which is displayed in the lives of all people. The sacrificial love that you see is not due to any good within people, it’s only due to the good that is within God. God lavishes HIS goodness on us and through us. God’s common grace not only causes people to love sacrificially, it also restrains the evil of people. Without God’s common grace, we would all be worse than Hitler.

    What about sin? It is not just that some parts of us are sinful and others are pure. Rather, every part of our being is affected by sin – our intellects, emotions, desires, hearts, goals, motives, and our physical bodies. Paul says, “I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom 7:18), and, “to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted” (Titus 1:15). Moreover, Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9) In these passages Scripture is not denying that unbelievers can do good in human society in some senses. But it is denying that they can do any spiritual good or be good in terms of a relationship with God. Apart from the work of Christ in our lives, we are like all other unbelievers who are “darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Eph 4:18) We also lack the ability to do anything that, in itself, will please God. Paul says, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8). Unbelievers are not pleasing to God, if for no other reason, simply because their actions do not proceed from faith in God or from love to Him, and “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6)

    So, folks like Greg Mortensen, Gandhi, our country’s servicemen, the benevolent atheist, or any other person who does acts of great sacrificial love and kindness, apart from faith in Christ, do not please God.
    = = = = = =

    //Is their extreme love for mankind a waste?//
    Yes, because even the greatest, most extreme love is not great enough. Especially considering that the greatest command is to love the Lord God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. They have not even come close to that. In reality, the most pious Christian is no closer to loving God perfectly than the atheist who denies God. Why? Because perfection is so infinitely far beyond anything humans can attain. And if their love for mankind is not born out of love and glory for God, then it is definitely wasted because ANYTHING not done for His glory is wasted.
    = = = = = =

    //Will God still punish these people with the wicked?//
    YES! They ARE wicked! Their sins have never been forgiven! There is only one path to reconciliation with God and that is through repentance and faith is Jesus. That is why the most loving and benevolent atheist will perish. Stop judging by your humanist perspective. God will judge them according to His righteous standard, His holy standard. What standard is that? Absolute perfection in love for God and for mankind – the way that Jesus loved. That means every thought, word, and deed must be perfect toward God and mankind from the moment of birth to the moment they die. The law of God requires it. Bottom line…its hopeless. That is why Jesus is so needed. People are saved by grace through faith in Jesus – no other way.

    (cont…)

    • jferwerd

      Hey Jason. You said:
      //There is only one path to reconciliation with God and that is through repentance and faith is Jesus.//
      Have you ever noticed verses like Colossians 1:18-20? I will use the more literal translation: [Jesus] is also head of the body, the out-called; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in all. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether (all) on earth or in heaven."

      Phil. 2:10-11: so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

      Romans 10:9 "that if you confess with your mouth JESUS AS LORD, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved"

      //That is why the most loving and benevolent atheist will perish.// Have you ever studied the word "perish"? It is the Greek word "apollumi" and there is not a shred of evidence anywhere in the Greek Scriptures that it is eternal. Everybody will perish under the curse of Adam. But is that the "end" of the loving atheist? Refer to the above verses.

      //Stop judging by your humanist perspective. God will judge them according to His righteous standard, His holy standard. What standard is that? Absolute perfection in love for God and for mankind – the way that Jesus loved.// How are we measuring up in today's church to loving God? There are many atheists, agnostics, buddhists, etc. that love more than Christians. Are we to think we'll be off the hook just for believing? Let me ask you a question…when Jesus conducted His ministry, who was He critical toward? Did He condemn the atheist, the pagan, or the devout Jew? If I remember correctly, He was quite favorable to everyone except those who were called to the truth but did not love.

      //People are saved by grace through faith in Jesus – no other way.// AMEN Jason…I agree completely.

  • Jason

    (…cont)

    //Does God turn a blind eye to their love and refuse to reward them?//
    Their “love” is a stench in His nostrils because “our best works are as filthy rags” to God. Reward them? With what? Why? Never forget that God is JUST, and He will judge rightly. How many times have they lied, stolen, coveted, hated, lusted, worshipped another God, etc, etc? Countless time have they broken God’s laws. Countless time have they sinned against God. God will NOT simply forgive them. Let me use an illustration:

    Let’s say you come home from running errands and find your family tortured and murdered. The police catch the men who did this terrible thing. He’s eventually brought before the judge and they judge declares, “I’m a loving judge, so you are free to go.” How would you feel about that? You would be SO OUTRAGED that justice was not served! Why? Because the judge is more corrupt the criminal.

    Do you honestly expect any less from God? God WILL judge rightly. And that is humanity’s biggest problem – God’s justice. The good news is that God’s justice was satisfied upon Jesus Christ when He was on the cross, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (Jn 3:16-18) God’s justice was not satisfied for the unbeliever.
    = = = = = =

    //Did those who died in service of humanity give up their short lives in vain, only to be lost forever?//
    Yes, because they were serving humanity, not God.
    = = = = = =

    //Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).//
    In the immediate context, Jesus is talking about himself laying down his life for his “friends” – those who are his disciples. This is a foreshadowing of his death:

    12"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father(AG) I have made known to you.

    If you want to take it further, this is talking about brothers and sisters in Christ, and their love for one another, not a “heathen’s” love for another person.

    Even more, look to the beginning of this chapter and you will see something even more important:

    That Jesus is “the vine” (v 1), and every “branch” not abiding in Jesus is fruitless and will be gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned (v 6). Only by abiding in Jesus will a person bear fruit which glorifies the Father. (vs 7, 8)

    In other words, the unbeliever has no fruit because he is not abiding in Christ.

    (cont…)

    • jferwerd

      //Their “love” is a stench in His nostrils because “our best works are as filthy rags” to God.// I beg to differ on this Jason. THis is the god that the Church has created. But the only thing that I think is a stench in God's nostrils is hypocrisy–all talk and no action on the part of those who have been offered the truth. Btw…I looked up verses for a stench in God's nostrils and it would appear this is a man-made saying. God doesn't say it anywhere.

      //Reward them? With what? Why? Never forget that God is JUST, and He will judge rightly. How many times have they lied, stolen, coveted, hated, lusted, worshipped another God, etc, etc? Countless time have they broken God’s laws. Countless time have they sinned against God. God will NOT simply forgive them.// How many times have you done the same as someone who knows better? At least they are ignorant of what they are supposed to do. You are more responsible with what you know.

      Luke 12:48: but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

      Paul says that those who are not given the law will not be judged by it (Rom. 2:12). What does this mean? Perhaps you should read my book if you are open minded to learn some new perspectives!

      //Let’s say you come home from running errands and find your family tortured and murdered. The police catch the men who did this terrible thing. He’s eventually brought before the judge and they judge declares, “I’m a loving judge, so you are free to go.” How would you feel about that? You would be SO OUTRAGED that justice was not served! Why? Because the judge is more corrupt the criminal.//

      I am not saying anyone is getting off scott free. But I have an even better example than the one you used. I KNOW a man who this happened to (his story is in my book). After a gunman killed his wife and son, and wounded himself critically, he heard God tell him the night of the shootings to "forgive the murderer." He struggled through but did so. LAter, he found out that his oldest son had been behind the murders of his own family, intending to kill them all. So let me ask you this…if God asked a mere mortal to forgive such heinous acts but God is unwilling at some point (through a reconciliation process) to forgive the same people, does that make the mortal more loving and forgiving than the God? Isn't that hypocritical for God to ask a person to do something He's not willing to do? And do you think the man will be more satisfied if his son is made accountable and reconciled ultimately for his wrongs or if his son is sent to eternal separation/torment?

      //Do you honestly expect any less from God?// I expect MUCH MUCH more from God than most Christians. I believe His character has been extremely maligned and distorted.

      //God’s justice was satisfied upon Jesus Christ when He was on the cross, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (Jn 3:16-18)//

      You should read this passage in an interlinear sometime…it has been quite distorted by the translators.

  • Jason

    (…cont)

    //Peter said, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).//
    Once more, context matters:

    Look at all of verse 8,

    "Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins, be hospitable to one another without complaint."

    Here Peter is speaking about the Christian aspect of living a loving life before men. And he's primarily concerned about relationships with other Christians. You say, "Well isn't he concerned about evangelism?" Yes, but you remember the words of Jesus that if we love one another, by this shall all men know that we are His…what?…disciples, that is the substance of our witness. (jn 13:34, 35)

    And to even think that an unbelievers “love” for others can somehow cover over his sins, is so offensive to me because it totally ignores and sidesteps the cross of Christ. That is NOT what Peter is saying here. Peter is talking to believers about how to treat other believers – the Church. And, if as a church we ever get to the place where we're running around poking at each other because of our sins, we're shattered. We are not perfect and as long as we're in this fallen flesh, we will sin and the only thing that is going to ride over the top of that and keep us together is love. Love is always hiding, love is always covering a multitude of sins, that is its character. To put it simply, love forgives and forgives and forgives and forgives and forgives and if we don't have that in the church, we're in real trouble. Again, this has NOTHING to do with the supposed love of an unbeliever and how that love can cover his sins.
    = = = = = =

    //Do these verses actually mean something other than what they say?//
    As I pray you now see, these verses actually mean something other than what you think they say.

    I plead with you to not publish this book.

    With respect,
    Jason

    (end)

    • jferwerd

      Peter does not specifically distinguish believers in his statement. I'm certainly not sidestepping the cross of Christ because I believe that one day everyone will acknowledge Him and at that time, their acts of sincere love will be a credit to them by the righteous Judge.

      In summary, I disrespectfully disagree with both your assessment of God's character and the eventual fruit and reward of the love shown by those who do not know Him yet. I'll admit that a couple years ago, I probably saw it your way. But that was before I took a dive into the Greek and Hebrew scriptures, Church history, as well as ancient Hebrew perspectives. The Scriptures tell such a different story than we have been brainwashed to believe, and that is why I wrote this book. I hope you will consider reading it.

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