On March 31, 2019 John Park an EFCA Pastor at Ambassador Bible Church in Chantilly, Virginia preached about how Christians should love. While it was a good talk in contrast to greater evangelicalism it was a failure. Many evangelicals do not know what love is. This post looks at John’s sermon and analyzes the issues with it.
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Martin Luther King
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:37-40 ESV
Ambassador Bible Church in Chantilly, Virginia
The sermon from Ambassador Bible Church.
Last Sunday on March 31, 2019 The Wondering Eagle attended a local EFCA church in the Washington, D.C. area called Ambassador Bible Church. Ambassador is in Chantilly, Virginia and the congregation has a high number of Koreans. Many of the churches in Chantilly have a large population of Koreans as its part of the demographics. John Park is the Senior Pastor of this EFCA church. This is not the first time I have written about Ambassador. Several years ago I used their membership covenant as a discernment exercise. You can read that in, “Practicing Discernment: Membership Requirements for Ambassador Bible Church a local Evangelical Free Church in Chantilly, Virginia” and “Practicing Discernment: Analysis of Ambassador Bible Church’s Membership Covenant (Evangelical Free Church of America)” Another Acts 29 pastor in the Washington, D.C. area also came from Ambassador Bible Church. Kenji Adachi trained at John Bryson’s Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis before he was sent out to plant All People’s Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia. When Kenji Adachi was at Fellowship Memphis they had a disturbing sex crime that the church covered up. The worship pastor Rick Trotter was into voyeurism and he illicitly recorded people in the church restroom. In the process he also manufactured child pornography. The church made his victims forgive the worship pastor and then quietly let him go where he engaged in the same criminal activity at another church in Memphis, Tennessee. He was caught and pled guilty. Part of the scandal was dragged out by the local newspaper the Memphis Commercial Appeal, this blog The Wondering Eagle dragged out the rest. Kenji Adachi was on staff during the cover up and this blog emailed him about when he was planting a church in Fairfax and got a terse response. So much for the evangelical talk of being a man, manhood and doing the right thing. If you want to read the history of the Fellowship Memphis scandal you can do so in, “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church.” This is all background information on Ambassador Bible Church but let’s look at a sermon John Park gave.
Summary of John Park’s Sermon at Ambassador
The sermon that John Park gave was based off Matthew 22:37-40 when Jesus is asked as to what the greatest commandment is. The answer given is to love the Lord God with all you heart, soul , mind and strength. Then you love your neighbor like yourself. According to what John Park said the entire Christian life is to love God, and love people. But he says that love does not come naturally. Humans are inclined to love themself first. The goal for today is to love me, and that even God exists for me. The senior pastor said that it takes a supernatural love to to break free of self and love others. He quotes 1 John 4:10 when he said that we can love others because God loved us first. True love happened at the cross when God sent his son Jesus to die for us. The cross is the starting point of love as it was the ultimate act of love.
John Park then moves into the five love languages and then works to apply them to God. These are the five love languages.
- Words of affirmation.
- Giving or receiving gifts.
- Acts of service.
- Quality time that is spent with someone.
- Physical touch as in hugging, kissing, etc…
Words of affirmation for God. Shower the Lord with words of praise. Love God with song or words. One loves God by bringing our gifts to him. Give God a portion of our income through tithing. Give God your house, car, material possessions and more. You can love God by acts of service. You serve the poor, spend time with others by serving them. One loves God by spending quality time with God. This means quiet times, Bible study, and devotions. The times that we live mean modern distractions. We love God with physical touch, after all God is invisible. So how can we touch God if he is invisible. People are visible and we love them. 1 John 4:20 is quoted by John. How can you love God if you have hate for a person? Loving God and loving people are so closely connected. We should love our neighbors, those who live next to us. Our enemies or those who are different who disagree with Christians. Your neighbors are those who are easy to love and those who are hard to love. To illustrate the differences of love John spoke of the differences of hamburgers and crabs. Some people are like hamburgers, they are easy to love. Others are like crab, in that it takes hard work to get to the meat. Its hard to work for your feed. In this case you have to work for love. Loving your neighbor means you love those who are difficult. A Christian may say I can’t love that person, and that is where God comes in the picture. Its easy to love people who love us back in return. Its hard to love those who are difficult or who hate Christians. Jesus said that the world will know that you are my disciples by your love.
Note to John Park Love is Absent from Much of Evangelicalism and Many Churches
John’s sermon was good but someone needs to communicate a message to the pastor of Ambassador. Love really does not exist in many parts of evangelicalism. Or love has been redefined. Its complicated because of the various differing strains of Protestantism. For example love has been redefined in the Neo-Calvinist camp. Love has become authorterian and autocratic. Because of individuals like John Piper, Matt Chandler, Mark Dever, etc… love now means church discipline of the vulnerable and the hurting. For example do you remember when Matt Chandler’s The Village Church attempted to practice church discipline on a woman who annulled her marriage to a child pornography addict in 2015? The Village Church’s behavior was horrific. If you are not familiar with that story you can read it in, “Has Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Recovered from the Karen Hinkley/Jordan Root Scandal?” In 9 Marks, Mark Dever has created a situation where church discipline is used as a weapon. I hear about how church discipline is used in other organizations like Acts 29 and more. This blog was created out of an incident from a former Sovereign Grace Ministries church called Redeemer Arlington in Arlington, Virginia. My story could have been solved with love, and it was not. Why? Because people like Jordan Kauflin do not even know what love is about. You can read more about that in, “Unless You Experience Spiritual Abuse Then You Won’t Understand How Painful it is.”
So in that previous section I looked at the issues with love being redefined among the Neo or New Calvinists. But what about the traditional evangelical camp? John Park said that love was shown by God in the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. In the traditional evangelical camp love has been distorted and lost because of the culture wars. For example at Ambassador you have Justin Culbertson who attended Liberty University. What does love mean to Jerry Falwell Jr? Why did Jesus suffer and die at Calvary? In this version of Christianity Jesus suffered and died not for the sins of the world but for control of the United States Supreme Court or control of a bicameral legislature. Love is about Christian nationalism, exclusion, and marginalizing the “least of these.” Love is about pure political power. This section of evangelicalism is also lost and has no understanding of what love is. This wing of evangelicalism really needs to disappear.
So as John Park teaches that love is what the Christian life is about – love of God and love of your neighbor, someone needs to tell John that love in many evangelical churches really doesn’t exist. Its absent, lost, and largely dead. John Park needs to understand this because churches like Ambassador are worthless until these kinds of discussions can be had. I would even put John Park’s Ambassador Bible Church in the authorterian camp when one studies its membership covenant and how controlling it is.
Bill Maher is Correct About Evangelicals Being Fans
A few years ago Bill Maher gave a monologue about evangelical Christians and love. He spoke about how Martin Luther King could call himself a Christian because of how he loved his enemies. He also spoke about how evangelicals are too engaged in politics and how that has affected their view of love. Honestly many evangelical Christians will be known for what they hate. Or what they are opposed to. They could knock the issue of love out of the park but honestly that will not happen because of the mindset and the culture. Bill Maher is blunt but his thoughts on evangelicals and love are accurate. Many evangelicals are just fans of Jesus. They are not followers of Jesus. Since John Park used the analogy of hamburgers and crabs in his sermon to make a point I will used another analogy. Its like going to a buffet and choosing to pick and choose what you believe and what to follow. That is how a large number of evangelical Christians function. They could conquer the world with love but instead they are going to fail and do so in a spectacular fashion.
Axiom by Bill Hybels
Is Ambassador Bible Church Aware of the Bill Hybel and Willowcreek Church Scandal?
When I was studying Ambassador Bible Church’s library section I noticed that they had Bill Hybels available for the congregation to read. In case Ambassador disputed me saying this I took a picture and inserted it into this post. The question I have for John Park is why would you make available Bill Hybels to the congregation after the Willow Creek scandal? In case Ambassador does not know they story about Bill Hybels and sexual harassment and more was broken by the New York Times on August 5, 2018. In the article you can read how Bill Hybels made his executive assistant Pat Baranowski watch pornography with him. Then as the Times reported she was pressured to perform oral sex on Bill Hybels. Keep in mind this is the Bill Hybels that is known for his ethics and writing about what you do when no one is looking defines your character. So why is Ambassador Bible Church have Bill Hybels material available for the congregation to read? Why does it take a blogger on the very edge and an outsider to point these kinds of issues out? As I wrap up this post I will close it out with the song that was sung to close out last Sunday’s worship service.