And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
— Matthew 24:4-13
Anymore, I’m always hearing about these being the last of the Last Days. With the Mayan calendar nonsense sucking in Christians and with handwringers already lamenting the as-yet-undecided outcome of the 2012 presidential election, apocalypse now isn’t just a movie title.
One of the characteristics most noted of the degenerates that will run amok during the Last Days is the fact that their love for God will have grown cold.
But wait a second. As much as we can’t stop talking about Those Other Guys Who Are Most Definitely NOT Us and their grown-cold love for God, are we reading that passage correctly?
Does it really say that the love of many for God will grow cold?
No, it doesn’t delineate what that love is or for whom. We are the ones reading God into that passage.
The fact is, the Bible never attempts the fission of love into factions, love for God versus love for people. Indeed, it explicitly states we must avoid that separation:
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
— 1 John 4:20
Could that possibly be more clear?
So how is it that we almost never talk of falling away from God in terms of falling away from loving other people?
And how is it that the comments on so many Christian websites are filled with supposed lovers of God channeling their ire toward their brothers and sisters in clearly hateful ways? How is it that supposed lovers of God can so gleefully rejoice when a foe gets his comeuppance? How is it that supposed lovers of God can be downright cheerful at the prospect of bombing other people “back to the Stone Age”?
I would suggest that perhaps the better way to determine if our love has grown cold is to ask how much we love people outside our immediate families, especially those we view as sinners. Even better, how much do we love our enemies? If the answer is not much, then perhaps we have already fallen away, no matter how loudly we sing in church or how many chapters of our Bibles we read religiously each day.
If we want to take the pulse of our times, if we want to be on the cutting edge of calling these the last of the Last Days, then perhaps the reality that most of us can’t get along with other people at all says more about the state of our souls than any other test for Christian perfection.
Because it’s not enough to talk about love for God growing cold. If those of us who claim we love God can’t even muster a warm smile for the checkout girl at the grocery store, then all the claims for loving God we espouse till we’re blue in the face won’t hide the fact that we have fallen away and don’t even know it.
5 thoughts on “Grown-Cold Love”
“Perfect love casts out fear.” John tells us. The inverse is also true: Fear crowds out love. If we are focused on God, there is no room for fear. On the other hand, if we are concerned about the things of this world, we are soon choked and whithered. The story about Jonah, is I think, highly relevant to today. Jonah was a patriot, and his focus on the strength of his country and his concerns about aiding the enemy, choked his love for the Ninevites. He would rather they had perished, because it would have been one less enemy to worry about. God is concerned for everyone. He loves everyone. And He wants us to be able to meet anyone on the road and consider them our neighbor and someone worthy of our love and attention, because that is what He would do. The Christian has only one enemy, and he isn’t human, and we are not to confront him. We resist him, but we let God do to confronting.
Don’t let the world mold you in its pattern. Don’t conform to the way the world hates. Be transformed. Daily.
Thanks SLW-I believe in Matt 24:10-13 ohwever I also believe that it is a matter of timing Is God through with us yet?I also believe in Matt.28:18-20 and Matt 24:14 is the gospel really being preached in every nation, to every people and tongue? I am looking for revival to break out in Saudi Arabia and all the Muslim nations before it is all over!I agree with you when it comes to leaders, I am looking for a revival that has every eye on Jesus. Maybe I am looking for a city like Abraham that I will not see in this life but God has instilled the vision, the hope, and faith for it deep within my soul.Blessings,Michael
Saying you love God is an easy thing to say because how do you prove it? Lots of religious bleating and pious utterances and you are known as a God lover. Loving other people? Well that is easier to discern by your countenance and action and thus harder to fake (little wonder James is the book of the Bible that gives us so much heartburn)
Dr. D,I admire your heart. It’s hard for me to emcrabe the concept of the big end times revival, though mainly because of Matthew 24:10-13. Nonetheless, inside, I still want it too. When I think about the historic revivals that reached something of the level you write about, I cannot recall any flaky leaders. Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, Finney, even McGready, and Seymour were godly men, with no appearance otherwise. What has been foisted as revival of late seems to always involve the flamboyant, the over the top, the inconsitent and unreliable. That’s gotta make even an optimist like you pause and wonder.