Lewis took on four perhaps I can handle just two. But these are not categories of loving as his were. These are two ways of viewing the love of Jesus. The love of Jesus portrayed in the Scripture, Old and New, is one thing. The world’s conception of that love is another thing. Unfortunately the average Christian on the street and the average post-Christian on the street hold much the same view. This is not to speak well of the world. The Church has been derilect in it’s duty to preserve the world faithfully and preach it at all costs.
The mantra of our day is “how dare you judge me”. It is all around us in every form of media and in all of our peers. This is love number one. This is the world’s conception of the love of Jesus. He went around just loving every sinner and speaking acceptance, tolerance and diversity. I’m not sure why anyone would crucify this Jesus but apparently they did. Oh, I know, it was the bigots who had to kill him because they were so judgemental. They were Old Testament haters. Those religious leaders and the huge mobs of people that cried for a real criminal to be freed, just as long as Jesus was killed. They simply couldn’t handle how much he loved them and tolerated them. This Jesus hung out with the worst people he could find. This Jesus was warmer and fuzzier than a Thomas Kinkade painting of a mountain of teddy bears. In fact if he could be there and hug a person as they were sinning, all the better. He taught his disciples to tell everyone that “we are sinners too and God is love so don’t fret it man”. They passed out doobies and smoked a bowl with anyone who would. When the disciples encountered a hater, they were told to suddenly become political and to have those people burned at the stake. Ah what a nice Jesus. This is hardly more absurd than what people seriously believe. No doubt they are hesitant to say it this way, but that does not change the beliefs they act on.
Of course, the love of Jesus portrayed in the Scriptures is quite different. First I think our conception of the term sinner is a bit off. It is almost always used in the New Testament as a bit of a joke on the religious leaders. Christ came for the sinners, or the people who would admit their sin and fall on the mercy of Jesus. He didn’t come for the religious leaders who didn’t consider themselves sinners. They were the chosen of the chosen. The Jews of the Jews. They had erected a system of complex but achievable rules and they followed them. He uses the word sinners as the religious leaders would apply it.
And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners
He isn’t suggesting that the religious leaders were not sick, but that they didn’t think they were. Obviously they were sinners in need of God’s grace but they didn’t realize it. So on the other side these people weren’t literally sinning at this moment. Jesus didn’t travel around in an ongoing orgy. These were people who had recognized their sin and fallen on his mercy. Jesus didn’t seek the worst people he could find so he could exude tolerance or embrace diversity. They sought him out for relief from their sins. So, these are the two categories, the self-righteous and the sinner. But they are not perpetual categories. His ministry was to call the sinners–to good works. He made them clean and divides them from the world, or sinners. This is the idea in Mark 14:41 and Luke 6:32. We are all sinners by nature, yet some have accepted the grace of Christ by faith and some have not.
Sometimes the Church can look like the world, there is no pride in this. If you profess this faith in Christ and still act like a sinner, that is a serious thing. Paul tells us to purge that evil person from the church. I Corinthians 5:9-13 The Church should be characterized by obeying his commandments I John 2:1-6. This is how we treat these people with love, because it’s how God told us to treat them.
Of course this is a different thing from the sinner who does not claim Christ. He is simply part of the world. Christ had a different way of loving these people. In John 8:48-59 the people were inquiring about who he was. He explains it to them them and they try to stone him. In John 10:22-39 the people ask him if he is the Christ. He talked for a few minutes and they tried to stone him again. Time and again the same formula occurs, a crowd follows Jesus, he talks, they pick up stones to stone him. The way Christ loved these people was often by making them mad. This does not sound right to us at all these days. We have this mistaken impression that problems in the world are caused by judgemental people or lack of education. We fancy that if only people knew enough they wouldn’t sin. This is foolishness. Christ was the greatest teacher every, he communicated his message effectively. His message offends, this is the love of Christ. That is why he warned us that if we follow him the world will treat us the same way. “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. ’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
The love of Jesus is not just an easy emotion. It is difficult and requires much wisdom and study of scripture to apply it correctly.