I did something today that I’m sure a lot of Christians would not approve of. I was driving to the store and saw a group of high-school/college aged kids on a corner holding large signs saying things like “Hate Kills” and “Gay-Bashing is not OK”. These weren’t “gay pride” signs, they were anti-gay-bashing signs. I pulled around, parked as close as I could and without thinking any further, walked up to a few on the end and said, “Hi. I just want to say, I’m a Christian. I believe in the Bible. And I want to apologize for how some Christians have treated gay people. I believe in the Bible but I don’t think the Bible teaches us to hate anybody. I think it teaches love.”
That’s all I said. I wish I could have videoed the response. The way their faces went from hard and defensive when I said “I’m a Christian, I believe in the Bible”, to stunned, to open and near tears. Several grabbed my hand and shook it, saying “Thank you. Thank you so, so much.” It was amazing how much that short speech meant to them.
I don’t apologize for God’s standards. They are God’s standards. I apologize for treating people who fall short of them with hatred. We don’t picket and yell at adulterers or gossips or those who cheat on their taxes or exasperate their children – or aren’t loving to others. Probably because all of those hit a little too close to home. But there’s one sin out there that offends the sensibility of Christians, so we have given ourselves permission to treat people who commit it like lepers. Oh, but Jesus was kind to lepers, too. Just like the prostitutes and the tax collectors and the woman caught in adultery.
I know some people can’t let go of “But it’s against God’s law.” Please read these verses a few times with an open heart: Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? James 4: 10-12
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 WE have a law to fulfill, and it’s not fixing other people, it’s obeying what Jesus told us. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34
Should we condone sin? Of course not. But it isn’t our job to condemn the sinners – it’s our job to first show and then share the good news. Sadly the world at large, no matter what their brand of sin, doesn’t see much good news in the church. They see angry, hateful, and dangerous people. That’s not my opinion, those are words used frequently to refer to Christians (sometimes called “Christian Nazis”) in discussion boards all over the internet. We need to shine, not burn.
My prayer is that the few kind words I spoke today softened a couple of hearts to the idea that maybe Christians aren’t all bad, and sometime, when someone approaches with an invitation to church or a message about the good news, there will be an open place for that seed to fall. Because I just can’t find anywhere that Jesus told us to go judge and condemn one another in his name.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13: 34-35
They kept on asking Jesus about the woman. Finally, he stood up and said, “If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!” John 8:7