The ELCA is all about love, acceptance, welcoming and tolerance. These are all important in our walk with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind, It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” And love is not enough. Many at the Greater Milwaukee Synod Assembly were filled with the love of the Lord. Much of the discussion centered about the belief that our God is a loving God, and He is indeed a loving God. God loves each and every one of us, despite our sinful nature. But, there is danger in placing too much emphasis on this free and unconditional love. Simply applying our Lord’s command to love our fellow man can lead us to make compromises when it comes to accepting God’s Word. Many of the doctrines intrinsic to the Lutheran faith have been tossed aside by the leaders of the ELCA in the name of love. Confession of sin is absent from more and more worship services in ELCA churches and either replaced by a celebration of baptism or disregarded altogether. The quest for diversity and acceptance has led to allowing pagan ceremonies to be blended into worship services, such as the libations ritual used in the opening worship service at the GM Synod Assembly. Misguided love for our neighbor has led to doctrine that accepts behavior specifically prohibited by Scripture, in the effort to be more welcoming to the LGBT community. Reaching out to the oppressed in our love has elevated the goal of social justice above our mission as Christ’s disciples to preach the Gospel and bring the lost to salvation.
Not all who profess a love for our Lord are saved. We are saved by our faith in the risen Christ, by our belief that Jesus took our sins to the cross, suffered and died in our place, defeated death, so that we may live eternally with Him in heaven. Without faith, love is meaningless. If we clothe, feed, or heal nations of people, but do nothing to save their souls, we are doing nothing more than conducting a fool’s errand. Faith is constant and unwavering. Faith will never compromise. Faith is steadfast, always true to our Lord. Love, however, can be used by the evil one to cloud our minds and compromise on the very principles our Lord has taught us in His Word. If we use this flawed reasoning that our God is a God of love and love alone, we will find it easy to ignore His Law and replace it with our modern sensibilities. If we feel that our love for our fellow man linked with God’s love for us is all that is necessary to earn one’s salvation, this will only lead us to the bitter realization that there will be no room in His house for us.
So, as we proclaim our love of the Lord and do our good works in the world, congratulating ourselves for doing God’s work with our hands, we are embarking upon the wide path toward destruction. We must love our neighbors as our Lord commanded, but if we are not centered in Christ’s love, we can love them to death. If we minimize and ignore sinful behavior in an effort to show that person how much we love them, we do nothing to help them from straying from the narrow path leading to their salvation. Yes, we can love our neighbor too much. We are not properly equipped to love unconditionally. This is a task that only our Lord can accomplish. Too often our misguided efforts to embrace God’s love and share it with the world, only encourages those is error to continue on a path away from God. Sometimes, tough love is necessary when dealing with our children so that they realize that there are consequences to their wrong behavior. If we acquiesce to any and all behaviors, the sky becomes the limit and those children cannot be successful in society. As with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must love them, but we must help lead them back to the most important thing, their faith. When we have faith, love will come naturally, as we will love as our Lord loves us. Love is important, but it pales in contrast to the faith that is necessary to earn that salvation that is so freely placed before us.