Christians are frequently accused of being judgmental. The typical rebuttal is that that is absolutely false! “We love everybody, and want everyone to find Jesus. In fact, anyone is welcome to come worship with us.”
Now that may be true for the most part, but there’s always a caveat: they (the sinners) must be willing to repent. Essentially, anyone may sit in our Sunday worship service, but they may not be a member of our church (or even a regular attendee) if they do not repudiate everything that we consider to be a sin. After all, David said that he hated those who hate God. In fact, he hated them with a perfect hatred and counted them his enemies. (Psalm 139) So therefore, because it is written in the holy, inerrant, and infallible living Word of God, we have a duty to hate those who are in rebellion against God.
This is one of the more glaring discrepancies between religion and spirituality. God did not tell us to clean up our act and then come to Him. His Son actually stepped down into our world. And how did Jesus treat sinners? He didn’t just tritely say that He loved them—you know, in a generic sense like He just loves everybody in the world. He actually walked with them. He sought them out, He ate with them, He hung out with them. And He did this at a time when the societal mainstream deemed it particularly unacceptable. Oh yeah—and He voluntarily gave his life because He wanted them so much that He would do anything to bridge the gap.
But didn’t Jesus tell the adulterous woman to go and sin no more? Yes, He did. It is the dark side of humanity (call it our sinfulness or our fallen nature) that makes us feel as if God would never accept us. And when we embrace the dark side of humanity, the physical, mental, and spiritual impacts are devastating.
Yet Jesus clearly demonstrated how God views us—with love and acceptance despite our sinful condition. The reality is that we are all sinners. When we treat others as if their sin is worse than ours or demand that they repudiate their sins before we will accept them, we are acting like the religious principals of Jesus’ day rather than as the ambassadors that we are called to be.
But how do you deal with those who claim to be Christians, yet still embrace their sin? Certainly, you can’t let them be a member, let alone a leader in the church! And herein lies the problem. We look at the devastating effects of someone’s poor choices through the lens of religion. Certainly from an institutional perspective, if someone is placed in a leadership role and their values are antithetical to those of the institution, you are compromising your institutional values. Which is why religion cannot bridge the gap between man and God!
If we didn’t have Christianity™ and only had a family of followers of Christ, we would be able to approach the issue completely differently. We wouldn’t feel compelled to defend an institution from the unrighteous. There would only be people—sinners all. That means you, me, and everyone else. Are we compelled to “hate the sin?” Maybe not. At least, not like we’ve been taught. We would be able to hang out with them, help them when they need help, and share what God has done for us. (Please note for the record that I never said that you have to actually participate in activities that you feel are wrong or laude them as virtuous.)
Maybe we should recognize that we are all like a bunch of people floundering in the middle of the ocean. Now picture the ones that have been pulled into the lifeboat sneering at the drowning for attempting to swim rather than offering them a rescuing hand. They may be correct about the futility of trying to swim to shore, but are they actually helping anybody? And are the swimmers likely to want to climb into the boat if the passengers are hostile to them?
God is willing to forgive us all. Let’s act like people who have been forgiven and carry that message to those who aren’t aware of it.