I think before we can answer how Jesus would display love in today’s cultural context, we first must answer how Jesus would define it! I think the answer to both of these questions is actually quite simple!
Jesus would display and define love in today’s cultural context the same way that He did 2,000 years ago; by always combining love with the truth! To Jesus, these two are inseparable! He never divorced loving and embracing people from telling them the truth and calling them to align their lives with what is actually real, righteous, healthy, and best in God’s eyes!
Consider John’s account of the woman caught in adultery. Crack open your copy of the Word and read that!
What we find is not the Jesus of many of our liberal and secular friends and family, the Jesus who says, “Live and let live”, or the Jesus who only shows compassion but never righteous correction. Nope!
We do not find the Jesus of many of our conservative and religious friends and family either; the Jesus who is so committed to moral excellence and right living that He lacks warmth, mercy, and gentle embrace.
You see, the real Jesus of Scripture and of reality both embraces and corrects!
After defusing a nearly fatal situation where this judicial mob was about to stone the adulterous woman according to the system of law in place at the time, Jesus not only compassionately embraces her, He unapologetically corrects her as well. “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11b). It’s the both-and-effect; love and truth, compassion and correction, grace and guidance.
I love the way the Apostle John explains it at the beginning of his gospel account of Jesus’ life and ministry. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
So how would Jesus display love in today’s cultural context? By always combining love and truth.
How would Jesus display love to someone who identifies as transgendered? By embracing them as a human being made in God’s image and helping them take steps toward oneness with the body they have in fact been born in.
How would Jesus display love to someone who has same-sex attraction? By embracing them on the common ground that we all have attractions that we ought not act on, and by helping them learn to live by God’s Spirit because like Paul says to the Galatians, “When we walk by the Spirit, we will not satisfy the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
How would Jesus display love to someone like each and every one of us who has made regretful choices and have a proclivity to turn good things like relationships, careers, and sex into ultimate things? He would embrace us as individuals who need forgiveness and invite us to put Him at the center of our lives. He who is the way, the life, and the truth!