Thursday, December 19, 2013

With apologies to all the Pharisees I know and love...

As usual, I am a little confused and need some help here: am I supposed to be FOR the right of any company to run its business the way it sees fit (Hobby Lobby, Chick-fil-A) or should companies be forced to do things the way I or some group of people see fit (A&E)? It seems to me we need to choose one standard or the other.

Added to that, as a follower of Christ, should my message to the world be, "Jesus loves you" and let the Holy Spirit shape hearts that come to faith; or should my message be, "here is everything about you that God hates" and hope that tearing sinners down and forced behavior modification induces trust in God? Do I want the world to look at me and see love, or hate?

Jesus reserved His most fiery speeches for the religious people of His day who thought God had appointed them as the spiritual judges of others; then He hung out with the worst sinners, loved them, and helped them. When Jesus said "repent" His love and friendship for sinners demonstrated that His message was not hate speech.

Are we tasked with sharing the story of God's love to a lost world in need of hope, or judging others and being the standard of decency?

Jesus is our model for the former task. He is the only person who has ever lived who has the moral position to judge any sinner, and yet He chose to offer forgiveness and healing, and then died for the sins of the world.

If we say our task is the later, then we need to join the likes of the Pharisees: sinners telling other sinners what they can and cannot do. Telling people how they can earn God’s love on their own by not sinning. Or at least adopting our own system of classifying sins into the really evil sins like homosexuality, the simply bad sins like heterosexual adultery, and the ones we completely overlook like the idolatry of money and celebrity.

The goal in both cases is the same: a better world free from the slavery to sin. It is just that one approach is the plan God set in motion, spoke about in His word, and will bring to fruition in His Kingdom. The other is just another ideology trying to replace slavery to sin with slavery to a religious system.

(For follow up and clarification to this post, see here)

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