“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:11–13)
This past month, we have seen many things that people associate with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. However, one of the things that has struck me most over this past year is a little statement of Jesus in his sermon on the signs of the end of the world. It is the passage immediately preceding the great declaration of Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” How is it, that before the return of Jesus the dominant symptom in the world that Jesus looks at is the fact that the love of many shall wax cold? Do we not live in an age of increasing tolerance? Everywhere the cry is sounding “don't judge anyone.” How can Jesus be saying that the love of many is waxing cool at the very moment when the world is calling for greater acceptance of everyone? Even more sobering is that Jesus declares that the cause of love growing cold is the abundance of iniquity in world. It is a strange paradox that at the moment we are calling for everyone to be more tolerant of everyone else we are seeing wickedness and evil all around us on a level never before experienced in our history. Or is it really a paradox?
For every true virtue that God has, Satan has a counterfeit. For the others-focused marital commitment and love that is expressed between spouses he substitutes the utterly self-centered lust which leads to the justification of adultery, sexual immorality and the destruction of families. For the true experience of joy and peace found in our lives with God, he substitutes the alcohol and drug induced highs and laughter that leave us feeling hollow the morning after. And for the truly God centered loving acceptance of another human being because they are one for whom Christ died, he substitutes a dark parody and calls it tolerance. While love and tolerance have a superficial resemblance, in reality they are so different that it is perfectly impossible for someone who truly loves to actually be tolerance in any real sense. Both call for acceptance of others but mean very different things when they say that. Love is an unconditional commitment to another person’s best good, tolerance is allowing people to go on as they are now without complaining or making them feel bad. Allow me to illustrate: if used in the physical arena the loving acceptance of a mother or a brother who has cancer would involve utter intolerance to the cancer that is killing them. It is impossible to truly love that person and be welcoming of the cancer at the same time; the cancer will kill the one we love if it is not removed. Love demands and pleads for the removal of the cancer. Switch to a moral example: if I truly believe that the wages of sin is death and that the consequences of living in disobedience to God's revealed will for us is pain, suffering and destruction in the long run, then the loving acceptance of another human being can never result in welcoming sin in their lives. The love for that person demands the rejection of the thing that is killing them. Tolerance demands the acceptance of everything the person is doing and defines that as acceptance of the person. But the only way I can actually ignore the presence of the cancer of sin in another person's life, is if I am actually indifferent to what it is doing to them. Tolerance is only indifference renamed. True care and concern longs for nothing more than the removal of the cancer that is killing the one we love.
So it turns out the Jesus is correct after all… it is impossible to accept iniquity and still love another person! God’s condemnation of the cancer of sin that is killing us is the direct result of His unlimited love for us that did not even stop at giving His own life so that we could have the cure for this cancer. In a world that is demanding tolerance of greater and greater aberrations against the revealed will of God, the successful integration of that tolerance into our hearts and minds will directly result in the inevitable destruction of any actual love in our hearts. Let us instead embrace the reality that the God who is the very essence of love has clearly indicated that there are certain habits, practices, thoughts, words etc. that are innately destructive to the human being. It is His genuine love for us that compels Him to tell us the truth rather than what we would prefer to hear. Please join me this month in searching our own hearts to ask God to instill in us a deep love for those He died to save, and through that love to hate those things that God has revealed to be destructive to His children.