It is becoming increasingly unpopular to take a biblical stance in our largely post-Christian culture. The very term biblical is often seen as divisive, particularly in an environment where every idea becomes politicized and, eventually, weaponized. To some, a biblical stance may be more closely related to a political platform than with living for the kingdom of God.
Warranted or not, groups on both sides of most issues use (and misuse) the Bible to defend their actions. So, when controversial issues arise—homosexuality, abortion, etc.—we can be tempted, even as Christians, to feel as if we’re being harsh for taking a biblical stance. It’s as if you can’t be biblical and loving. This is why we need to listen to Jesus, the One in whom the terms biblical and loving fit together perfectly. His conversation with a certain lawyer in Mark 12 is particularly illuminating when it comes to the question of what is loving.
When Jesus talked about the Scriptures, He talked about how their goal was to cause people to see and know Him (Matt 5:17; Lk 24:25-27). In other words, the goal of the Bible—according to Jesus—is for Jesus to be revealed. Therefore, we don’t use the Bible primarily to defend ourselves politically or to attack others but rather to declare Christ and His saving work. And this, as it turns out, is the most loving thing we can do.
A teacher of the law noticed how well Jesus had answered some hostile questions from the Sadducees in the temple. He then asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mk 12:28). His question would be overwhelming for almost anyone; the Jewish people lived by 613 commandments. Prioritizing the dos (248 positive commandments) and the don’ts (365 negative commandments) of the Pentateuch was seemingly an overwhelming task.
In response, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:4–5, a text familiar to any Jewish person in earshot of their conversation:
The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:29–30)
This loyalty to the one true God was central to the Jewish faith. The greatest commandment was to love God with all that you are. The text that Jesus quotes goes on to say that this conversation of God’s centrality is to be embedded in all of life: when you get up and when you go to bed; when you go to work and when you come home. In His answer to this young lawyer, Jesus upheld this Old Testament command to love God.
However, Jesus did not just take a biblical stance: He is the biblical stance. As we read through Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus claiming that real allegiance to Him involves heart, soul, mind, and strength—the very things that are to be devoted to God according to Deuteronomy. Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily in order to follow Him (Mk 8:34), and He informs a rich young man that he must give up everything to have eternal life. Jesus does not just stand for the truth. He stands as the truth. And this affects the way we love our neighbor.
After telling the teacher that loving God is the greatest commandment, Jesus then tells Him about the second greatest commandment, which is like the first. Citing Leviticus 19:18, Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31). Jesus has unified what many believers still divide. If one truly loves God, he or she will love his neighbor for the sake of God. Love is the fulfillment of God’s law.
We establish a false dichotomy when we ask questions like, “Is it loving to take a biblical stance?” because a truly biblical stance reveals Jesus, who is love incarnate. When Jesus is front and center, He simultaneously turns over tables (which upsets some) and dines with tax collectors and sinners (which upsets others). The same tension will be present for those who take a truly biblical stance today. Loving God and loving our neighbor will be met with mixed reviews.
When Jesus hears that the man has answered wisely, he points out that the man is ‘not far from the Kingdom of God.’ In saying this, Jesus highlights the obvious oversight of the man and the accidental oversight of many followers today. It is possible to acknowledge the centrality of certain truths—like the need to love God and love one’s neighbor—yet miss that these commands are only truly fulfilled as we believe in, follow, and proclaim Jesus and His gospel. The hope for our world is best displayed when believers bear witness to Jesus and His teachings in every action, interaction, and reaction. One can verbalize the importance of every answer the Bible provides and miss why the Bible provides it. The most loving thing any believer can do is live in ways that point to Jesus. We should be loving because God has loved us in Jesus. We ought to be merciful and gracious because God has shown us grace and mercy in His Son. We should be sacrificial because Christ is our great sacrifice. If we point to Jesus in Word and deed, we cannot help but be both loving and biblical.