Tag: sin (page 1 of 3)

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin… Except Ours

LoveIn the name of love, we are willing to do things that we never dreamed. For instance, I love my wife so much I willingly endure temperatures in our home that are on par with the outer boundaries of hell, because she is cold…even during summer. What can I say? I really love my wife.

Built for Love

At the end of the day, we are built for love. We are designed to give and receive love. Being that God is love and He desires to have us as His beloved; it follows that we are created to receive His love and extend it to others. Thankfully, many Christians understand this calling – extending and being His love. I’m hearing more and more people affirm that we are called to love others, and this is a good thing. What concerns me is what else can be said.

Love filled Hate

A common comment from people of the church is: “I hate the sin, but I love the sinner.” My response to this is always, “No you don’t.” Please understand, I recognize the good intention in this statement, because I use to say this very thing. What I understand now is that we error in believing that hate and love can coexist. “Hate the sin, but love the sinner” is found…nowhere in the Bible. This teaching isn’t in the Bible. While the bible definitely makes the case that God hates sin, it actually says evil (Ps 97:10), it more often points to hating our own sin, rather than sin in general, because it is our sin that keeps us from Him (Isa 59:2). And when we look at Jesus’ ministry, it was not part of His teachings. What Jesus did say was “Love God and love others.”

Your Plank

Again, He did mention “the speck” (or sin – Mt 7:3-5) in your brother’s eye. However, it was not for the purpose the church typically references. When we use that scripture to call out someone else’s sin, we disregard that Jesus first said deal with the plank in our own eye. In other words, that huge board! I mean, the guy was a carpenter, so I’m sure He was pretty solid on what a plank of wood looked like. His point was, deal with the huge sin in your own life, before considering the sin in your brother’s.

Their Speck

One of the key words in this passage of scripture is brother. After dealing with your own sin, Jesus was talking about dealing with the sin of other believers, not people outside of His followers. Sadly, we use this scripture to justify naming the sin of people who do not even believe they should be following Jesus. Then we wonder why they won’t come to our church. I’ve never seen anyone come to Jesus after a Christian said, “Jesus hates your sin, but He loves you, so follow Him.”

Hate Crushing Love

Here is the truth. You cannot truly love someone when you are focused on what you hate about them, and what they’re doing wrong. If we, as The Church, truly desire to love others as we love ourselves (Mk 12:31), we need to recognize that with God, hate never precedes love. It just cannot. Love cannot have anything to do with hate – except to crush it. Love stands alone and conquers hate. Remember you are built for love. This is the way of Jesus.

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Photo Credit: A Mormon Enigma

The Insider’s Guide to That Plank in Your Eye

Plank

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.

Photo credit/used from www.hendersonbaptist.org

Thank God for the prostitute and adulterer.

Rahab

I know that historically Christianity has been portrayed as an exclusive religion. That some how if you were Christian you were part of an elite group and better than everyone else. Christianity would run through cycles of using violence in an effort to see people converted. If that didn’t work, we resorted to heavy doses of guilt. I’d almost rather take the stretching rack than have someone tell me all the ways I’m not a worthy or valuable as a person. At least the physical pain of the torture rack eventually ends. None of that is what Jesus intended when He commissioned His disciples to make more disciples. We’ve so convoluted the process of coming to and following Jesus and inviting others to do the same, that it actually rejects people. And not just a few, but a lot of people.

That’s not how it was. In fact, one of Jesus’ more notable descendants was a prostitute. Rahab was a  prostitute that lived in the city of Jericho and was the sole player in making sure the Israelite spies made it out alive. They were so grateful that they promised to keep her family safe when they took the city. She was so struck with awe at the power of their God and the willingness of His people to accept her and not take advantage of her, that she joined them and started worshipping God. Eventually she married and began having children, specifically Boaz, who was the great-great grandfather of King David, who Jesus descended from. At that time, women were considered low-class citizens. Their husbands maintained every legal right over them. At times slaves had more privilege than women. So for a woman to be a prostitute was even worse. That means she would be subject to the abuse and use of who ever desired to control her. Likely she was viewed lower than a dog, which dogs we’re pretty low on the totem pole. For Jesus to be descended from a prostitute is huge news. And it’s good news.

It’s good news because even as she sat in a position of shame and sin, she asked for mercy and acceptance and received it. Not only did she receive it from God, but from His people. God’s people extended mercy and grace to a woman, that by all accounts didn’t deserve it, because that’s what God does. It’s the same with us. Think about the sin you were in before you accepted God’s invitation in. Mine was ugly, but it didn’t matter to Him. If that’s too much conjecture for you, then consider the adulterer.

While Jesus was in the middle of his ministry, a group of religious leaders brought a woman that they caught in adultery to Him and threw her at His feet. It happened in the street, in full view of the public. She was likely naked, which surely compounded the guilt and shame. Note that there was no guy drug out and flung at His feet, just the woman. The religious leaders had the law on their side. They intended to stone her to death. Flinging her at His feet, they demand that He cast judgement on her and probably expected that He participate in her execution. But He didn’t. Instead He told them that the ones among them that were without any sin, not less sin than hers, could throw their stone. No one did. Then He leaned down and looked at this broken, embarrassed, guilt laden woman and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?She said “No one, Lord.” And He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” He said He didn’t condemn her either. He didn’t condemn her. Some scholars believe that she continued to follow Him and serve in His ministry, even after He ascended to heaven, suggesting that she took serious the mercy shown her and the command to “go and sin no more.” The point here is that God invited in a prostitute and an adulterer. I’m grateful for that because that means I have a chance at mercy and grace. It means you do too. You have a chance at acceptance. You have a chance at grace.

If our Savior invited in prostitutes and adulterers, who are we to reject anyone. Our mantra has to be, “Come to Him, all who labor and are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.” It can’t be anything else. It can’t exclude those that we think are “too sinful,” because He came for everyone. He didn’t come to condemn, He came to save. And when we take on the mantel of condemnation, we throw His mantel of grace and mercy in the rubbish heap. I’m not saying we shouldn’t expect each other to live by the standard He set, we should, the bible is clear on that. If Christianity is a religion of exclusivity on any level, then it was reserved for the lowly and excluded the religious elite. Read your bible. But Jesus was clear that everyone was invited to the party; even the religious elite (consider Nicodemus).

If you’ve been hurt by Christianity, I’m sorry, that’s not what God desires. His call is to the tired. Those that life has beat down, those who have been trying too hard, those who labor in vain only to receive rejection, those who think they’re too lowly, and those who need acceptance; He’s for you. And it isn’t meant to be some intangible or fanciful thing. It’s meant to be experienced through His people. I’m sorry if His people hurt you, that wasn’t Him. If you’re a Christian and presenting a religion of exclusion, stop it, that’s not Him. Our purpose if to be agents in the reconciliation of humanity back to God, for His glory. If we’re so critical of others that it causes them to reject Him, that’s on us and we have to stop. Rejection is crushing. We all experience and deal with it differently. The Church shouldn’t be known for rejection. The church should be known for invitation. God invited the prostitute and adulterer. We should be thankful for that and follow suit.

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