**Warning – lots of personal opinion to follow. Feel free to respond with opinion of your own**
Yesterday I wrote a parable, or tried to, about a subject that is very bothersome to me. Somehow, from the time I was a young adult until now, the focus of the church in general seems to have changed from taking the gospel to the world, to trying to stop sin in the world. Much more effort and energy is expended in protesting against, protecting from, attempting to shut down or generally control specific behaviors than in letting people know that Jesus loves them and wants a relationship with them.
I’ll give an example.
I’ve talked to people who vehemently want nothing to do with Christians or Christianity because of what they perceive as the Christians’ intrusion into their lives, attempting to control what they do according to the Christians’ ideas of wrong and right. I talked with a woman once who belonged to a group that would be considered an alternative lifestyle. This group had scheduled a conference in a large hotel. A national Christian organization learned of this conference and started a campaign to get the hotel to cancel the conference. The group had security set up so that no one who was not part of the conference would be able to get into their area, and were very conscious of not interfering with the other hotel guests. However, the Christian organization was large and powerful enough to convince the hotel to drop the conference. Although the organization considered this a victory, the group simply moved their convention to another hotel and carried on. The Christian organization sincerely believed they were standing up for right and morality. However, many people who were part of that convention have incredibly hostile and resentful attitudes toward Christians in general because of that occasion. In fact, the term I have heard more than once is “Christian Nazis”, and they genuinely can’t understand why total strangers work so hard to control what they do with their lives if it doesn’t affect anyone else.
Now I can hear a lot of you yelling – but it’s sin! I’m not saying we should ignore sin. I’m saying getting rid of sin isn’t our job. It’s God’s. We couldn’t get rid of our own sin – how did it become our job to deal with anyone else’s? We were never told to go into all the world and stop them from sinning. We were told to go into all the world and bring them the GOOD NEWS – that Jesus loves them and died for their sin – not their sins, their sin, all of it, the sin nature in all of us that keeps us from being holy, from being good enough.
We weren’t given a mission, a great commission or even permission to go stop sinners from sinning. We were told to love one another, and this is what would show people that Jesus was from God. We were told to obey God – and that WE shouldn’t do the things that God says are sin. And we were told to spread the good news. I really believe that if we do that, God is able to deal with people and change them from the inside. Just like he did with me.
I think the question is what is our ultimate objective? What is more productive? Working to stop behavior (which still leaves people without Jesus, by the way) or working to introduce people to Jesus with as much love as possible, remembering that we all are sinners saved by grace, and approaching with humility instead of judgment? What would Jesus tell us to do?
Then Jesus said to them, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell everyone the Good News. Mark 16:15
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other. John 13:34-35
I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me. John 17:20-21
(BTW, I know I haven’t mentioned my health for a couple of days. I’m coming out of my week 2 slump and am feeling pretty well again. Thanks for caring.)