I sat in rehearsal the other night for a show I’m assisting with. I watched ten actors do a mic check and all of them failed to speak clearly. As I yelled for the millionth time for these actors to speak clearly, I sat back and sighed loudly. Why can’t they understand what they’re supposed to do?
As I sit here typing out my thoughts, I ask this question of the culture I live in today:
Why can’t people understand the things they’re supposed to do? More importantly, why can’t Christians get it?
As Christ-followers, we’re supposed to show our commitment to God through love. We are to love God with everything that is in us. Our hearts, souls, minds, spirits — we are to tune all of those facets of ourselves to God in love.
Out of this, we are to love others. ALL others. Gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual, pansexual, semi-sexual, and every other sexuality and gender in between.
On the flip side, we’re also supposed to love the bigots and hypocrites, the thieves and liars, the gluttons and the arrogant. We are supposed to love the violent idiots and the cynical skeptics. We are to love those who have sinned the greatest sins we can imagine and those who have cut us deeper than we can accurately describe.
We are to love others as Jesus loved us.
Then out of this, we are to tell others about Jesus. ALL others. And we are to spread the word of God concerning the Gospel of Christ.
We are not called to correct others’ lifestyles. We are not called to condemn people’s actions. We are not even called to legislate our morality. We are called to tell others that Jesus Christ loves them so much that He died for them.
That’s it. The Gospel. That’s our message.
Or that’s supposed to be our message.
All across the writings of Paul the Apostle, you see this principle. Paul says he went into areas knowing only Christ and the Gospel. Paul claimed that God, not man, is the one who grows us spiritually. Paul said that the Holy Spirit alone convicts.
So why are Christians trying to be the Holy Spirit to those who do not believe in Jesus Christ?
We are not called to tell the LGBTQ+ community how to live their lives before telling them about the love of Jesus.
We are not called to tell liars and cheaters to stop before telling them about Christ’s sacrifice for them.
We are not called to tell the single mother not to have an abortion before telling her how Jesus has a greater love for her than any other she’s ever known.
I find it heartbreaking that the Church, meaning the whole body of Christ, is failing to spread the name of Jesus so they may spread the name of their choice of morality.
If I had decided that what mattered most to me was making my name known in the world, I would have followed my SSA to its fullest and abandoned Christianity long ago. I would have lived my life how I wanted to live it — not how some old man from a stage dictated me to live it.
I did not stop sinning before coming to Christ. I came to Christ so I could be free from sinning.
Praise God He gave me Grace to follow Him. I pray He does the same for many others in the days ahead.
Has anyone tried playing the convicting role of the Holy Spirit in your life? Or have you ever tried convicting someone else before showing them Christ’s love?
* Photo courtesy kjell8, Creative Commons.
I agree with you brother, I too have come to the same conclusion some time ago. I try not, and by His grace I mean not to try, to push my Pentecostal upbringing unto others. Since leaving the organized Church some years ago, God stripped me of everything that I had come to know and believe to be dogmatic truth. In the end, I had learned nothing. The only thing I have hung unto was my conversion and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, everything else was a mixture of truths. I grew up in a legalistic environment. At some point, I played the good little church goers part of being overly zealous for the wrong reasons. I was a homosexual and because I wasn’t practicing I felt I was above everyone else and pushed my religious teachings on others. Though a mixture of law and grace, it was still not good. I am glad I fell on my face in sin. Looking back on it, I am now overjoyed that I sinned. Sin can take us in two directions; a hardened heart or a softened one. I thank the LORD that He had mercy on me and hardened my heart and then soften it again. I still have Same Gender Attraction, and that will probably never go away. I am unmarried and I still desire men for my friends. Sometimes I slip up, but I don’t want to go down that road again. I’d rather go down the road of sin then the road of being religious. With being religious, judgement standeth at the door. But with sin, GRACE standeth at the door, nay, it has plowed Himself through the door and sits with the sinner. My testimony is shot, but I know that it’s not our place to tell others about what the law says until they have come to know who Christ is (the full filler of that law). When Paul was writing his writings, he was writing to the Churches, not to sinners. The Church receives a different message apart from the sinner. We who are in the body of Christ must judge ourselves, not condemn ourselves, but to weigh out our own lives and pray to the Father to find if there be any wicked way in us so we may have our minds renewed by the Spirit of Christ and thereby have our hearts changed by the operation of the Holy Spirit. PTL
I agree we need to show forth the love of God. Christ came in the midst of darkness and obscurity where there was no light at all, save the preaching of John, His forerunner. John represented the Moon, a little light that shined in darkness, but Christ came as the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings. The brightness shown and then later dimmed for a moment, and then shined again when He came back to fill those with power and great authority to exercise His will in the earth. All of Paul’s writings referred to and is connected to the Church. His teachings, corrections and rebukes are for the church. But to the world, GRACE is given in huge measures. The love of Christ must permeate out of our being to those who sit in darkness. Some Churches see a dirty clothed ragged hungry man as someone they would like to see cleaned up and look presentable. Others see a man that needs some food in his gut before he can think rationally. If we can feed the man first, and while he is nourishing himself, maybe he can hear what we have to say to him. A similar situation happened in the church that I was attending. A well known slob came in to our Rescue Centre, an inner city ministry that we had years ago, long since closed. The inner circle “clique” saw him and cleaned him up, shaved him, dressed him a suit and these were the words that came out of their mouths, “Now he look like a Christian”. Unsaved, unregenerated, and still to this day unregenerated. He has no interest. But for a moment, they beheld their glory of what a Christian should look like. I laughed. But I was also saddened, that this is where we are at now.
Thank you for writing brother.
By the way, what is the name of the play?
Thank you, Karl! And the play is a rendition of “Tale of Two Cities.”
I have to admit, I used to really harbor a lot of hate and loathing to gay or “side A” people. I mean I wasn’t full blown Westboro Baptist church or anything but I just had a lot of hate inside me directed at them. But its true what they say, I was really just angry at myself for my own SSA and directly scapegoating them for it. Admittedly I still harbor a lot of resentment now, mainly because I feel like the emergence of the gay movement killed intimacy and platonic affection amongst male friends in our culture. But I can’t fully blame it on them as extremely homophobic people are also partly to blame for this. All in all though its really useless to point fingers and play the blame game. It does no good for anybody and just spreads much resentment. While of course I still believe that homosexual activity isn’t in God’s plan for us and that there are many things about the gay culture that I don’t like, I have really tried to temper my feelings towards them a lot more and be more like Christ in reaching out to the outcasts with love and understanding even if I don’t agree with them. After all, they’re not that different than me as they have the same wounds and struggles. I know I need to accept them with love.
Whew… that was very hard for me to write.
Thank you for sharing. Praying for your continued acceptance, Brian.
You said, “I came to Christ so I could be free from sinning.”
How do you do this? One of the many things i’ve been struggling with recently is understanding how to just “be” with God. Because I feel so burdened by life- sin- that I don’t know how to be anything else. One of the consequences is that I have forgotten what it’s like to be free- and I have been questioning if I even am saved, will get into heaven. Or if I am just trying to act a certain way, hoping that God will accept me.
I want to be free. I want to stop struggling all the time. I don’t know how to do either of those things.
Thanks for your thoughts, Dean.
Sometimes freedom means knowing the ultimate punishment is paid for. But it can also look like having the strength to have more victories against temptation. You still might fall- but you then have the freedom to rise up front it with a renewed strength. Praying for strength in your struggling, anon.
Let me check whether we mean the same thing by the gospel. The Bible speaks both law and gospel–the gospel that Christ died for our sins, the law that points out sin and our need for the gospel. The Lord said to proclaim both repentance and the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47). Paul didn’t really speak any gospel to the Athenians on Mars Hill (Acts 17), he pointed out the inadequacy they experienced in knowing God. They had built an altar to an unknown god to make sure they had their bases covered. He pointed out their error and need: “we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29 ESV) and that the God they didn’t know commands them to repent. At this point, He presents Christ, not as Savior–they didn’t yet know their need for a Savior–but as Judge, mentioning the resurrection as evidence.
I see that Paul used cultural understanding and sensitivity and so should we. A sledge hammer has its place but should not be used for every job. Christ spoke gently to the woman at the well without triggering her defenses. He first talked about the limitations in meeting her physical thirst before touching her conscience about her real thirst, “Go call your husband, etc. …” After He had earned her trust and was invited to answer her questions, He addressed some of the issues: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. …” (John 4:22 ESV) As a man, the Lord learned how to sustain with His words those who are weary (Isaiah 50:4). The bruised reed He didn’t break, and the smoking flax He didn’t quench. My love for others includes gently addressing the need for a Savior as well as telling the good news that there is a Redeemer.
Well, David, case in point- as soon as I mention erring on there side of loving too much in order to love as Jesus did, you question my definition of the Gospel. I am very familiar with the laws taught in the Scripture, and it does have its place. But those laws mean nothing to one who does not have Jesus.
I am not saying we never correct- I am merely proposing the church get back to our actual calling: tell the world about Jesus and His sacrifice for them. Yes that will include talking about sin- but that doesn’t mean trying to convict someone of their sin. Merely pointing out at that we have all done things that are wrong and need saving from it.
Lastly, I doubt Jesus will fault me for being too loving. And I’d rather err on that side if I’m going to go too far one way.
I’m sorry my words conveyed to you that I question your definition of the gospel. That wasn’t my intention. Please forgive me. I was trying to clarify where you were coming from. The word gospel could be used in a broad sense–the whole history of the fall and redemption, the account of all that the Lord Jesus did and taught are some examples. I was using gospel in the narrower sense of God’s solution to our need in Christ in contrast to how God shows us our need (summed up under the category “law”).
All is forgiven! Thank you for clarifying what you meant. When I say “Gospel”, I usually mean the simple story of Jesus dying for our sins and rising again to save us from eternal damnation so we can have a personal relationship with Him. It does indeed encompass the law in that you have to understand man is fallen and needs a Savior. However, as I was reminded of today at church, I cannot convict someone of something that they do not recognize as sin- and what’s more is that I can convince them it is sin by merely saying, “The Bible says so.” I have to be able to meet people where they are at in their understanding of the world, which for many includes a rejection of the Bible. For those people, I have to approach them from more of what C. S. Lewis called the “Argument of Human Desire.” In other words, showing people their need for Christ by acknowledging the natural desires already placed in them without any knowledge of the Bible. From there, I can begin walking them through their need for a Savior. Afterwards, knowledge of the Scriptures comes into play, introducing them to know Jesus better through personal study of the Word. I hope all of this helps clear up what I was implying in my post. Thank you for the discussion, David!
Thanks for a good word, Dean! The church is way out of balance on this.
You ask why can’t Christians get it. It is simply because it is far more difficult to love than it is to criticize and provide simplistic formulas. A friend of ours posted her excitement on FB today that our new president elect has promised to do away with porn. I have no idea how he would accomplish this in our democracy, but it is clearly easier to savage the porn industry than it is to walk beside someone who is fighting an addiction. The later is messy and time consuming. It exposes the limits of our good ideas and good intentions. When we try to love, we see how impatient and limited we are, how desperately in need of Christ we are. It is far easier to expose others.
Have I tried to convict before showing love? Oh, hell yes, far, far too many times. I like the easy route myself. I may have even taken it this week on this board. God help me.
Years ago, right after I got saved, I started going to a church across my cruddy apartment. I tithed regularly and led two to Christ. I was on fire for the Lord, and yet I was conflicted. Some cute guy would come in to the store where I worked and BAM! I was looking at his butt. Why? I was saved, wasn’t I? Then a guest speaker came to our church. He was full of fire and brimstone. He delivered a rousing sermon and had the whole congregation whooping and hollering ‘Amen’. Even I joined in. Then he declared from the pulpit that ‘all gays will burn in the depths of hell!” I was shocked! Not thirty minutes before I had checked out a guy, and now I was going to hell for it. What was worse was the response from the congregation. They responded with a hearty ‘AMEN!’ and ‘PRAISE JESUS!” Sadly, the pastor and a few of the deacons new I was SSA and had just come to the Lord.
I quit going to that church. No one came after me, so I delved hardcore into the gay lifestyle. I wonder though, what would have happened if someone had come for me?
And I have to believe the Holy Spirit prompted at least five to do that. And we continue to think that no harm comes from our disobedience.