Love is more than an emotion. Love is selfless unity. Love is described by John with the Greek word agape. This is the selfless, unconditional God kind of love that we are to show toward others. Unlike most in our culture today, John did not identify love with eros (“sensual love”), nor did Paul when he carefully described it in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Jesus said of love: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:3). This is the essence of agape
So, consider this book my love for you, the believer in Jesus Christ. Or, for you, the American living in the twenty-first century. Or, for you, the one who holds to an alternative philosophy or religion. This book should not be cast aside as the fruit of anger, the work of a divisive spirit, or as the work of a man who is nothing more than a closed-minded bigot raging with hate.
If you must see it this way, I understand. I accept your conclusion, but I disagree. I know my heart.
I am writing as a pastor to the people in the body of Christ. Many times pastors are evaluated in terms of niceness. People say, “Our pastor is such a nice man.” Or, “Pastor So-and-so is just so friendly.” I guess that is fine at some level of pastoral qualities, but in my opinion, it is at the bottom of the list of essential qualifications. My pagan friends are nice. My atheistic, gay associates are friendly. But, they are not
going to be my pastor.
I confess that I am not the nice pastor. Nor am I likely to be your BFF (“Best Friend Forever”). I am not writing this book so you will like me. If you can, please understand this statement and accept it for what it means: I am writing this book because I love you. I am writing this book because I want to help you. I am writing this book knowing full well that many people will instantly be offended and will reject it and its conclusions for many reasons. (Then again, maybe not. Perhaps I flatter myself, assuming anyone is actually going to read this book.)
I mention maps and lifeboats in the title, but you will not find the typical chart at the back of the book illustrating in three simple steps how the author will lead you to a successful, happy life. Nor will you be comforted by any oversimplified “Lifeboat for Dummies” diagrams. There is no easy confessional chant-like incantation to make everything in your life better. There is no magical prayer to read aloud that will rid you of your cultural chaos, or deliver you from your addictions, or instantly make your worldview beautiful. This book is not going to provide you with peace. It will not help you sleep better at night.
Instead you will find explanations of how you got where you are, why things are the way they are, and a crucial alternative to your church’s “Just be happy, keep loving, and everything will magically work out fine in the end” philosophy.
While so many today are happy to believe in some kind of Oz-like fantasy world, the truth is that we inhabit the Creator’s Reality. We are in the world where Truth wins. We live in a reality where those who sow to the wind (vanity, empty philosophy) will reap the whirlwind (chaos, destruction)!
Right now you, my friend, are being told by someone who loves you, that your world is about to change, that the worst thing you can do for your temporal, physical life is to confess Jesus, the eternal Son of God, as Lord. If you want to see cruelty, share with others the hope you have in Jesus’ return to earth to establish his kingdom, because the fastest way to the back of whatever line you are in is to share with today’s Western Culture that you believe literally the words of the ancient Jewish prophets and the revelation of the Lord’s apostles concerning the past, the present, the near future, and eternity.
I love you, but the world is going to hate you. Learn to tell the difference between those who love you and those who use you.
Things are going to get confusing. I have tried to prepare a lifeboat supplied with hope and a map to guide you into glory. I hope to see you there, my friend, on the other side of history. Stay strong and keep your sword sharp!