By Rev. Mark Creech, Executive Director
Christian Action League
In 2003, Neurosurgeons in Singapore performed a marathon surgery to separate conjoined twins. Iranian sisters Laden and Laleh Bijani had separate brains but shared a critical blood vessel that had to be severed, and, in one of them reconstructed. Unfortunately, the twins died of complications from uncontrollable bleeding that occurred during the operation.
According to a Washington Post report, Tehran physician, Alireza Safaian, who had adopted the twins and cared for them, expressed bitter regret over the surgery. “When they took them to Singapore, I knew they would bring back their bodies,” he said. “Me and my brother, who is a doctor in Germany, we told everyone that this separation was impossible. Nobody would listen to us.”
The virtues of truth and love are also inseparable twins. Some wish to divide the two. But few today recognize this is an impossible task.
In our time, the word “love” is used in so many different senses it’s nearly impossible to understand anymore. For some, its treatment is synonymous with lust and self-gratification. For others, the word almost always is heavily loaded with notions of feelings and sentimentalism; it’s primarily an emotional word. But these usages are nearly the direct opposite of the biblical meaning of “love”.
In fact, the Scriptural meaning of love has nothing to do with warm fuzzy feelings or a friendly spirit of tolerance and brotherhood. This so-called and often proclaimed virtue usually denotes an unbelieving denial of the absolute verities of the Christian faith or is simply the demonstration of a selfish unwillingness to be genuinely concerned about the well being of others, and is actually indifference.
The true meaning of “love” is seen in what Christ did for us on the cross. His concern for our deep need was so tremendous; He challenged us about our erroneous beliefs, behaviors and lifestyles. Even before He did this, He recognized it would lead to His rejection and condemnation. Man’s hatred of the truth paved the way for Christ’s crucifixion at Calvary. Christ knew, however, that love couldn’t be separated from the truth.
Our culture has a very shallow and irresponsible view of love. Love is commonly associated with peace, cooperation and understanding. To validate someone else’s behavior or worldview is depicted and seen as the loving thing to do. Instead, love should be seen for what it really is — a very difficult and self-sacrificing act. Genuine love grieves over and seeks to protect people from the inevitable results of wrongful perceptions and practices — it doesn’t close its eyes to reality.
In his book, The New Tolerance, Josh McDowell explains how love can’t be separated from the truth. He writes, “If you love someone, you will not keep quiet about his drug addiction, will you? You will not avoid the subject of her involvement in a dangerous cult, right? You will not ignore his destructive sexual behavior or the condition of his soul, will you? If you love a person, you will not act indifferently toward dangerous or destructive beliefs or behaviors simply to avoid offending him or her.” How marvelous!
Love does the hard thing. It doesn’t always approve, sometimes it must reprove. It doesn’t always seek to be inoffensive; sometimes it must take the risk of angering people. Being agreeable essentially costs us nothing, but really loving others can cost us everything.
In 1976, a daily flight which originated in Quinto, Ecuador, and departed for the southern Ecuadorian city of Cuenca completely disappeared. Despite ongoing investigations, Saeta Flight #232, a 727 Boeing jet with 59 passengers, was never heard from again. For over 25 years family members weren’t allowed peace of mind as to the plight of their loved ones. But that changed in February of 2003 as Chimborazo Mountain climbers discovered the jet imbedded in the snow and ice of one of the highest volcanic mountains in the world. The plane was almost intact and the bodies of the passengers were well preserved by the year-round icecap on top of the great mountain.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Upon finding the wrecked plane and its preserved bodies, it was evident that others had already been there. The passengers had been stripped of their jewelry, wallets and other possessions. When, nobody really knows.
The flight of Saeta #232 has a tremendous lesson for those of us who’ve been rescued from the destruction and death of this world and translated into Christ’s eternal kingdom of love and light. Perhaps the greatest of all sins is to know the truth, to possess the knowledge that can free others, and then to conceal it for reasons that are essentially selfish.
Lovingly telling others what they need to hear doesn’t mean we can be rude about it. David Roper of RBC Ministries sums it up well when he writes, “Truth without love is dogma that doesn’t touch the heart. Love without truth is sentimentalism that does not challenge the will. When truth is spoken with love, God’s Spirit can use it to change another’s mind.”
Indeed, truth and love are inseparable twins!
This editorial by Rev. Creech originally appeared July 15, 2003 on the American Family Association’s Agape Press. It has been revised and updated for a posting here.