Love isn't always easy. Instead of calling it what it is--hard love--we use a term, tough love, which is often mistaken for abuse. What we really mean by tough love though isn't abusive at all, but merely love with expectations geared toward helping others reach their full potential.
As a pastor's son, I found myself thinking it was unfair that my parents were harder on me than they were other kids in our church. It was especially maddening in those times that we were all guilty of the very same "crimes" so to speak. I'll never forget telling my dad how unreasonable I thought this was, and I'll never forget his response either (I hated it then, but I get it now.) He said, "These other kids aren't mine. Obviously, they need to follow the rules too, but they don't matter nearly as much to me as you do. Because of that, I hold you to a far higher standard." Now that I'm a father, I predict that my son will be hearing this from time to time.
The New Testament is filled with letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to the early church, each one unique as each church dealt with its own issues. In reading 1 Corinthians, it is obvious that Paul felt the need to be extremely stern, and in chapter 5, he started to reveal the reason why. First, as the chapter opens, Paul reprimands the members of the church because of sexual immorality and boasting. As the chapter continues, Paul finally gets to the point, saying, in verse 12, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?" And, in verse 13, he adds, "God will judge those outside."
There is a major problem that Christians don't want to face. Once we are in Christ and a part of the church (globally), the expectations change. As Paul says, he wasn't writing to condemn the world, but those inside the church. Judging the world is solely God's responsibility. Paul was also not speaking of a fall away from grace as some would call it, but admonishing them that because they know Christ and are under his leadership, they are held to a much higher standard than the world is. Why? Because without Christ we are strangers to God, but by accepting Christ, we are adopted into the family. We literally become children of God. That is our gift. But as Jesus said in Luke 12:48, "But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
Christians, we have been given much...and it's time we start to expect more out of ourselves and out of each other. The world doesn't do as we expect them to do because they don't know they're supposed to. We in Christ do know better, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, so we have no excuse. So, here's the hard love. The world isn't decaying because of the world, it is decaying because of the failure of the church. We have to show them love and light and help them find the way while condemning the self-defeating behaviors within the church.
That may seem like hard love, but it is the kind of love that will change the world!