34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time listening to discussions on the radio about the riots across England. The theme that kept cropping up time and time again was the claim that this is happening because there is a ‘moral vacuum’ at the heart of society – that youths have no ‘moral compass’ and ‘don’t know right from wrong’.
It is all very well and good to point to morality as the issue – but it doesn’t seem to quite sit right. The problem with saying that it is because of ‘a lack of a moral framework’ is that, if our modern culture of individualism has anything to teach us, it’s that morality is relative. Now, there will be some that shirk at that statement – but isn’t it true? Human morality is relative – ‘this is ok for me, and that’s ok for you.’ Everyone has a moral compass – but they don’t necessarily point in the same direction.
So the problem of relying on morality is that anyone can construct any moral framework they wish. And if we are not controlled by the Spirit of Christ, then we are controlled by the sinful nature (Romans 8).
What has been brought into sharp focus in recent days, and has become quite evident, is that rather than there being a moral vacuum at the heart of society, there is actually a Jesus vacuum.
You see, rather than a human-imagined morality, dreamt up in the minds of fallen individuals in order to prohibit certain behaviours, what Jesus does is quite the opposite. Jesus doesn’t so much prohibit us, but compels us. Jesus compels us to love the other, not because we feel we have to, but because we know what love is (1John 3:16) and out of the overflow we love the other.
It can hardly be said that there is a moral-vacuum at the heart of society – not at all. In fact, there is plenty of morality about – we all have a ‘moral compass’ – but a moral compass that is not dictated by the Spirit of Christ, is dictated by the sinful nature.
Our actions show what is truly in our hearts. If we are rioting, it is because our heart is saying that we want to riot – what good is a moral framework if our heart says the opposite? But if we know the love of Christ, we won’t be rioting, but will be forever loving the other.
Our cities need Jesus, so get out there and let the love of Christ compel you!
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!