One of the big signs of an unhealthy church is when the teaching centers on one aspect of truth or one aspect of love, but the two are not taught together as the Bible calls us too. Some churches center on preaching the truth, and do a very good job with it, but they do not have love to balance it out. Other churches model love but do not teach truth. These churches are not modeling the characteristics of God: that God is a God of justice; but also, mercy; the God of law is also a God of grace. We must have a healthy balance of the truth of God's Word and the love of our actions, without this balance the church becomes one-sided and ineffective.
There is a large church in Southern California with a great pastor who I admire very much, I attended this church many times and have had friends that were on staff at this church. But this church has a fatal flaw, it is legalistic. Even though their teaching is correct and "hits the nail on the head" so to speak, it is not practicing the love of Christ, thus many people leave hurt and disillusioned because nobody cared for them there.
The other extreme is another large church in Southern California that has very poor teaching; I would go so far as to label that church as a cult theologically speaking. About 12 years ago I interviewed there to be a youth Pastor, and I was appalled by the questions the senior pastor was giving, and how he was ridiculing me because of my views that Christ was God and Lord. But to be honest this was a very loving and caring church. I felt very comfortable there, and the people were wonderful, open, and accepting; characteristics that all Christians should have, but there is no truth being taught there.
We cannot be so concerned about offending people that we never give the truth, and we should never give the truth without the balance of love. If your church emphasizes love and never speaks of truth, it will collapse. If your church just teaches the truth without the companion of love; then, it will become legalistic and there's one thing a non-Christian cannot stand besides hypocrisy and gossip, its legalism! And you will never reach your community for Christ with a legalistic attitude. Don't get me wrong we are never to confuse legalism as correct theological teaching. Nor are we to compromise the gospel, absolutely not! We are to have a high view of Scripture and communicate God's Word with truth and conviction. What we do not do is boil God's truth down to a list of "dos and don'ts." What we are to do is live out God's love and God's Grace for this communicates the characteristics of Christ more powerfully than a how-to list.
This is God's plan because God loves us. So we must follow through with the principles of Scripture being lived out in our lives. Out of love, out of nurture, out of care, and not out of rules regulations and hatred. Yes we have a God of law as revealed to us throughout Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, and we are under a code, a covenant, a contract, and we need to communicate this effectively within the parameters of love. When we do this, we are teaching the truth. Christianity then becomes a big pill that can be swallowed and not a bad medicine to be avoided.
God's Word tells us, "instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together but every supported ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:15-16)
How? The solution is simple, follow God's Word. We need to take God's lead and do what He requires with truth, and do it with love. Otherwise, you build yourself a house of cards that will soon fall. The aspects of love and the gifts that God gives us are not for our own private benefit. They are to be shared with one another. God has not called us to be in isolation to each other, but has called us to be in relationship to each other. And the driving force of our relationships is the love that passes all understanding that Christ gives to us, because He is the head; thus, we are to take that love and let it infect those around us. The Christ affected Christian will model Christ and teach the truth in our actions, and our words, and in our deeds, because Christ first loved us.
God's love must be our model for life. It must flow into us by who Christ is, and in return flow out of us to those around us. God's love is the ultimate power for the Christian. We are to be fueled and empowered by love through all situations because Christian love is the turning of our backs to our self-concerns, and then facing forward to our neighbors. If love does not take you beyond your self-interest, then what you have is lust and not love! That love is a principal, that love is an action over against any emotion. That love is a choice, and a lifestyle, and a commitment, and is a trust, love is not a fuzzy feeling in our tummy. Out of true love, God the Father gave us His Son, the Son gave us His life in replacement of our own. The Son sent the Spirit to save us, and we should be literally overwhelmed, and be consumed with extreme joy by what God has done for us.
The Bible tells us in Mark, "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:30-32)
There is no commandment greater than these. Love must unveil our true gratitude and faithfulness to what Christ has done, and in turn let that gratitude flow to our friends, family, and neighbors. The Mark of the Christian life is love, the love that Christ gave us and should be overflowing in us so that it overflows to those around us. The task of love is how we live our lives with trust and obedience modeling the character Christ. And the manner of that love is how our neighbors view us and respond to us.
(c) 1998, 2001 Excerpt from the book, "Pew Sitting" by Richard J. Krejcir