Lately, a lot of people are up in arms over what can and can’t be called sin. Both Christians and non-Christians have drawn clear lines in the sand and drawn their proverbial swords from the sheaths, ready to do battle over our freedom to call specific actions sinful… or not.
So we log-on, click, share, and deliver our blow to the opposing side with a cleverly crafted meme. Our hope is that we can dig the speck out of their eye, before they notice the plank in ours. And, we know our viral logic can’t be refuted, sans a cleverer meme from the other side. Unfortunately, everyone is so media shocked, that no one is hearing what the other side is screaming.
The World’s Sin
Christians are in a unique position. We have the opportunity to communicate the simplest truths of the Gospel on a global scale. If not handled well, we open the door to some potentially devastating results; namely the possibility of driving people from Jesus, rather than to Him.
Consider John 16. Jesus is found telling the disciples about the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit’s job will be. Jesus explains:
“8 And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. 9 The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.”
In verse 9 it appears that Jesus takes the time to intentionally point out and define, for the disciples (and us), what the world’s sin is. He could have said ANYTHING at that moment, but He chose to define it as unbelief in Him. Inarguably, throughout His ministry, He did address specific sins that did not fit with following him. However, I believe His defining of sin in this verse was intentionally focused on the sin that we, as His followers, should be focused on when addressing other’s sin.
The sins that he outright condemns (hate, lust, coveting, etc.) are all directed at His followers for the sake of their own righteousness; not for His followers to point out in others as sin. This becomes evident right after He teaches about anger, adultery and revenge. He says not to concern ourselves with the speck in someone else’s eye (their sin) when there is a plank in ours (our glaring sin) [Matthew 7:3-5.]
Christians and the World’s Sin
Fortunately, in defining the world’s sin, Jesus made that fit perfectly into the Great Commission He gave us before departing the earth. In Acts 1:8, just prior to His ascension, Jesus commissions the Apostles (and by proxy all His followers) to “be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This unbelief in Jesus is the sin we’re called to address and being His witness is how we’re expected to address it.
As we love and live life with others, they begin to wonder and ask where we find our hope (because they get to see the realness and rawness of our life and how Jesus moves within it and within us.) When that happens, we’re able to declare who He is, His goodness, and provide an explanation for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15).
In response to the world’s unbelief, we are called to be Jesus’ witnesses (or testify, proclaim, declare) to who He is… the Son of the Living God. We do that by loving God and by loving those He has put in our life. Obeying these commands is evidence of our love for Jesus.
Now is the time to stop declaring what we’re against and start declaring Who we are for. This does not mean that we are not accountable for what Jesus taught, because we are. We are. Christians are accountable, not unbelievers.
The Best Way
When we love God, we’re drawn to a life of righteousness in Christ. Because we love God and Jesus, we also obey His command to love others. When we love others, they get to experience Jesus. Through our declaration of who Jesus is (through word and action), the Holy Spirit leads that person into all truth and convicts them of the sin of unbelief. They either answer or reject that conviction. If they accept it and seek Jesus; the Holy Spirit draws them to righteousness, in Jesus, and begins to deal with the sins that have kept them from that righteousness and holiness. Our part then becomes to disciple the new believer within a relationship (and community) of love and grace.
Make your plank the priority. Deal with the sins within you. Seek out other believers that will hold you accountable. But as for the world adhering to the standard of righteousness He calls US to, they don’t even believe in Him, why would they follow what He says?
Maybe it’s time that we actually do what Jesus said and love God, love others, and let the Holy Spirit lead us to Him, turning us to righteousness.