I've noticed that a lot of Christians have an extremely difficult time saying, "God loves you," to people they disapprove of. They say things like, "Love them, yes, but love them enough to tell them the truth." May I ask an honest question? Why's it so hard to say, "I love you," without a disclaimer? I think that's sad.
My experience has been that most Christians have no problem telling "sinners" the truth, and actually, that's the real problem, and the "sinners" know it. It takes no love whatsoever to condemn (and most do), but it takes a ton of love to speak the truth gracefully (and most don't). Let's face it, it's easier to be harsh, because it feels better. We feel better...about ourselves! It pumps up our self-righteousness. It makes us believe that we'll somehow get an "attaboy" from God because "we tell it like it is."
Solomon was a pretty smart guy. In Ecclesiastes 3, he said, "To everything there's a season...a time to tear down and a time to build up...a time to be silent, and a time to speak." I think "wisdom" is knowing the difference. It's understanding both the how and why...of love.
Here's my take on what we need to do when we find it difficult to say "I love you," to someone without a verbal addendum. Just develop a friendship with them. That's right...a real friendship! Get to know them! What a novel thought. You do love them, right? Why not be a friend?
Do you have any gay friends? Have you ever tried to get to know a real trans person? What about a real Democrat...or Republican?! When's the last time you had lunch with someone who looks or thinks differently than you? Point worth noting: Jesus did it all the time (see Matthew 9:11). I suppose there's safety in living in a bubble, but ahh, there's no growth either, and no real influence.
How can we have good conversations about tough issues without good relationships? It's easier to pronounce judgment, isn't it?...because it takes work to love someone who thinks differently. It's grade-school stuff to pronounce judgment, especially when we dupe ourselves into believing we're doing it for God. Somehow we think He winks at us when we "set people straight." Friends, maybe we're mistaking His wink...for a tear.
Over the years I've been around a lot of legalists with a good verse or two. They try my patience, to be sure, especially when they inform me that they're "speaking for God." Have you noticed that Jesus never got mad at sinners; instead, He sacrificed his very life for us (notice, I said, "us" not "them"). He didn't die for us out of anger; it was love. In fact, the only people who routinely ticked Him off...were church people. Read the Gospels and see for yourself.
Can't we be secure enough in our relationship with the Father, that we can extend His lavish love and grace without feeling that we've failed Him?
Relax friends. Just be like Jesus. HE rubs off; you don't need to. By the way, we need Him infinitely more than He needs us. Yep...infinitely more. When we begin to understand that, we'll discover the key to spiritual power. We'll also discover...how to truly influence people.