Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Another Perspective

On Facebook a friend submitted an update after reading her Bible that morning.  Specifically, she read the passage found in Matthew 10:33 that says, “But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”  Her response to this was to get on Facebook and announce that abortion and homosexuality were sins.  She needed to say so, so that she would show she was not ashamed of her God and so that He wouldn’t deny her in heaven.  Oh, my! 

My first thoughts, I confess, weren’t so kind.  I can’t imagine anyone doubting that this was her perspective.  She had said these things before.  And who was she saying this to?  Her friends on Facebook, mostly like-minded conservative Christians.

My more radical friends usually get a pass from me with a smile.  I don’t care to debate every little thing and truly don’t think that I have it all under control, so even if I disagree with someone’s interpretation, I choose to not say much.  But this!  Oh, my!  First of all, how does one make the leap from not denying Christ to announcing that particular sins are sins?  I don’t see the connection, frankly.  I didn’t want to be snotty.  I most certainly didn’t want to start a public debate between Christians—I hate it when that happens.  But, as comments were piling up after her update that championed her ‘courage,’ I felt like I needed to respond.  I prayed a lot, wrote a lot, deleted a lot, prayed some more, and responded with this.

I would like to submit, with love, another perspective. I think it would be difficult to find an American who doesn't know that the typical opinion of a (conservative) Christian is opposed to abortion and homosexuality. Christians have taken many opportunities to share this belief in many forums. I don't think the problem is Christians, in shame, failing to point out sin. On the contrary, I think we often fail to share the message of the Gospel, (in shame).
The Gospel is that God saw us before we were redeemed in our damnation-deserving state and evaluated us as worthy of His only Son's humiliation and undeserved murder. He loves us so much!  We do not have to clean up for Him; we cannot clean up for Him. That is the whole point: we need Him (so that we may be) clean.
When we preach sin and draw lines between ourselves and other people, we eliminate the possibility of doing what we were commanded to do: love and baptize people in the name of Jesus Christ.
If we only focus on making all people behave acceptably, we only treat the symptoms of the illness. The illness can only be cured by Blood. If I didn't have to stop sinning before I accepted Christ, who am I to demand (or reasonably expect the possibility) of someone else to cut out sin without the help of the Holy Spirit?
I think we might want to see unbelievers with compassion and as blind, not scold them for not obeying the Bible.
The book Peace Child and the film ‘Lord, Save Us From Your Followers’ helped me to see how the Body of Christ can't be just the mouth; we must enter the sinful world with a love that transcends all.

The response interesting to me.  I got the expected stuff.  Our society is too permissive.  ‘They’ have changed the meaning of the word tolerance.  Sin is everywhere and we need to be bold and stamp it out.  That is love.

But the interesting part came more quietly.  One  person privately messaged me.  I have never met her.  Here is our conversation.

HER: Thank you for your very interesting perspective on (our mutual friend’s) post. Truly hope we God's people can think through issues such as these instead of having others do our thinking for us. I felt your comment reflected some good thought by you on the matter. It was a blessing to read.

ME: That is very kind of you to say. Honestly, I was/am worried that I will sound snotty and cause hurt among brothers and sisters. I don't want that.

But I do struggle with the assertion that somehow we aren't speaking against homosexuality enough. :).

Expecting homosexuals to not be homosexual (or any other sin) just because the Bible tells me so doesn't seem right. There is a REASON people warp God's design. If we can bring healing to the pain by introducing them to the Healer, we can let Him mold and shape so that they won't even WANT the perverted versions of creation. :)

HER: Agreed!!! Thank you for getting back with me. And I messaged you for the same reason, not to cause division. Yet I wanted to positively respond to your comment. I think it is easy for us His people to jump to conclusions that are not truly based on His heart as revealed in the Bible. God bless you ~ and may He grant us the privilege of meeting on That Day :)

I wonder…  Was the message in Matthew for the two of us ladies?  When we deny Christ even among Christians so that we don’t rock the boat—but we use the holy phrase ‘to not cause division’—are we actually biting our tongues so that we may continue to ‘belong?’  John 12:42-43 holds some of the saddest words in Scripture:

Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn't admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue.  For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.

I always wonder about these guys.  What happened to them?  Did they eventually choose Jesus over the world? 

I know I started this saying that the Matthew passage was NOT about pointing out sin.  Then I wondered if we were guilty of not obeying the passage when we keep quiet in the face of other Christians taking a stand against sin.  I think I am confusing myself.  Here it is disjointed.

  • I do think we are to speak about Jesus as our Lord and Savior to others.  I don’t think we can be private or secret Christians.
  • I do think that we are called to share the Gospel, which is about love.  Sin is sin, and there is a time to call it what it is, and never a time to deny what it is when asked about it, but I do not think we should expect or demand that unbelievers cut sin out of their lives.
  • I do think we are to admonish, encourage and hold accountable fellow believers as part of a continual Body relationship.
  • I think we have gotten it backwards when Christians ‘take a stand’ against unbelievers and their sinful lifestyles, but are afraid to speak to believers about sin for fear of causing division.

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