In my couple’s small group, we are reading “What Jesus Demands from the World” by John Piper. This is another good read if you are ready to dig in and be challenged. Piper studied through the gospels and looked at all the commands/demands Jesus made in his teaching. Before this summer, it had been a long time since I had camped in the gospels to study. It seems that I had been in Paul’s letters a lot (to borrow a Seinfeld line–not that there’s anything wrong with that). It is so easy to read what we want to read to help ourselves feel comfortable. A lot of Jesus words are so blunt, and I had not camped there to listen in a long while. I have really grown and been challenged as I have led a study through Matthew (for my young women’s small group) and read this book. Today I was in a chapter about loving your enemies. It was filled with a lot of good meat. Piper made a point that true doctrine is the root of love. That is how Jesus lived. He did not compromise the truth to win a following. So many movements in the church today abandon the truth or bend it when God’s word does not produce a response that is popular. I loved how Piper stated that love is not pitted against the truth but it lives by it and burns by it and stands on it. It seems weekly I hear, “lets put our differences aside and love one another.” Well, when the differences are preferences, sure that is fine. But, we have to be so careful that we are not abandoning the very message of Christ just to make ourselves comfortable. Jesus said that a servant is not above his master. If the world hated him (Truth), it will surely hate us as we live out and share him. It is so easy to want to be liked, but we are accountable to God for how we compromise. Piper made an excellent point that in today’s culture ‘love is not defined by the quality of the act and its motives but the subjective response of others.’ In our culture and the church, we have allowed a person’s response to an act to define whether the act was truly loving. Let’s think about this. The Pharisees responded poorly to Jesus teaching. They were offended, angered, etc. Does that mean that Jesus did not love them with the truth? We forget that the true gospel is offensive to our sin loving, self-serving ears. So, I have to go to Him daily to decide whether I want to serve someone’s comfort for the moment or love them with words of life for eternity. I have dear friends who have confronted me in my sin over the years. I did not respond well at first, but as the Spirit worked, I was exceedingly greatful that they would love me deeply to give up their comfort to spur me on. They did this in gentleness and respect and truth, and that is how we are to walk. We are not to speak within our own pride or authority. We are to speak in humility and to trust God. I have had several really hard conversations with others in the last 6 months where I have had to speak the truth in love. The reaction of others was not good. The people were angry and/or hurt. I dreaded the conversations. I did not take delight in them. It was not comfortable, but I knew it was for their edification in Christ. I had to examine my heart, pray for strength and trust my Father in heaven and the Spirit to work in them. Piper reminded me in this chapter that I give an account to God…He is the absolute and not the person’s feelings of woundedness. May we each examine within ourselves how we define loving others. May we listen to Him and be in his word to walk forward instead of our own definition.