Love is ALWAYS the Answer
It’s so easy to fall into the negative mindset that so many people, even Christ Followers, seem to get themselves into: the state of the world, the upcoming presidential election, bathrooms, marriage laws, and the like.
My wife and I were talking yesterday afternoon about the religious response to some of these issues, namely the recently transgender bathroom laws that are sweeping the nation, and we were both cut to the heart at the amount of hatred the world hears from those of us in the church.
Let me be perfectly clear here: I support traditional marriage, and I absolutely do not understand the transgender community. I am not transgendered and I don’t know anyone who is. I have zero knowledge or experiences where I’ve heard someone give me their personal story depicting the struggle with being transgender. I recognize that it is a legitimate struggle and I have compassion on those who are affected by it. When it comes to politics, I have my opinions about how a society should be run and which of the candidates should be in the White House and you have yours. Some of my opinions may surprise some while they wouldn’t others. Here is my point: although I hold to what the Bible seems to be quite clear on when it comes to marriage and gender, I am also not a pick-a-sin-to-condemn-it-this-year kind of guy.
I am FOR people and I am FOR happiness and I am FOR love.
I am just for all of that in the proper context.
Allow me to clarify just one more thing: I am opposed to hatred in any form.
How Song People treat sinners
There are two ways we treat those who are in sin and each way is similar and different depending on context. We treat sinners differently than we treat other Christians who have stepped into sin. One thing is clear: we are not judges and our job is to love.
Jesus’ work on the cross obliterated our sin nature. That doesn’t mean that every person is going to walk with Jesus. There are sinners on the earth. If you’ve surrendered your life to Jesus, you’re not one of them. You’re not a sinner. You’ve been saved by grace and your identity is now a saint (Romans 6-8, which must be read together to get the full concept of being saved by grace and sin being obliterated; let’s not cherry pick here).
The account of Jesus with the woman caught in the very act of adultery in John 8:1-11 is a prime example of how we treat sinners. The woman was having sex with a man when the pharisees (self-righteous religious people) dragged her from the bed and brought her, likely naked, in front of Jesus. They wanted him to spit on her and condemn her to death for her sin. Be aware here that the man she was servicing is nowhere to be found. The pharisees were only concerned with the woman’s sin. Jesus, like the heroic anti-religious rebel he is, did not condemn the woman but got on the pharisees’ case instead. Holding them to the law that they cherished, he told them that whoever among them was sinless should cast the first stone to murder the woman for her sin. None of them could do it. They, like us, couldn’t keep the law in their very lives depended on it. Jesus lovingly told the woman she was free to go and told her to “go and sin no more.” That woman shows up again at the cross ready to worship Jesus along with his mother and some other women.
Song People approach non-christians in the same way Jesus approached the woman in this story. We show love and understanding.
I have a few religious-minded people in my life who sincerely believe that they are not to show too much kindness and definitely not acceptance of people caught in non-christian lifestyles. ie: gay people, transgender people, people living together and “playing house” but not committed in marriage, and the like.
My wife and I were talking about this concept of not accepting people right where they are at and determined that acting like that is opposed to what Jesus was showing us in John 8. Although we don’t have to agree with certain lifestyles, we are not the judge and are only supposed to show love. It is by loving and forming relationships with non-christians that we will have opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them. Think about it, are you more likely to win someone over by telling them that you’re right and they’re wrong and that they better get right or they’ll burn in hell OR is it a better way to build a relationship and show unconditional love? Unconditional love, by the way, is defined here as keeping the relationship even though the person may reject your “God talk”.
By building a relationship and loving for the sake of loving, you will have so many more opportunities to share the love of God with them.
Are you worried what it’ll look like if someone from the church sees you sitting on a park bench with a prostitute or the transgender Target employee or sees you walking into the local bar with the banker? If you are, then you probably have a religious spirit. Shake that thing off and announce yourself FREE! 🙂 The Christian life isn’t meant to look like you have it all together with everything in your life in nice, neat packages. Life is messy. Showing people the love of Jesus will also be messy at times. If you want your nice, neat pre-packaged life then buy a bunch of tracts online and leave them with the bill when you leave the restaurant. However, if you want a real Song Lifestyle, you’ll need to get used to rolling up your sleeves and hanging out with the community sinners.
I’m not suggesting you sleep with the town prostitute in order to win her over. But having her over for dinner with your family or buying her lunch at the diner is acceptable. Having a beer with Ralph, the town drunk, and telling him about Jesus and praying for him is also acceptable.
BUT THEN I’M ENABLING HIM! No your not, he’s a drunk. He’s gonna be drunk with or without you. You might as well cash in on it and bring with you the power of Jesus.
Dealing with sin among believers
Real quick, since this post is long, I’ll touch on the topic of sin in the church. Saved people aren’t sinners any longer. Romans 6-8 confirms this. That isn’t to say that saved people without a sin nature don’t sin from time to time. There’s sin on the earth. Everyone is going to tell a lie or call someone a name or something wacky. Just don’t hang out there when you do it! Dust yourself off, ask forgiveness, and move along. You’re under grace. Thank Jesus for it!
In 1 Peter 4:8 tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. The entire chapter here is talking about what to do when sin comes into the church. It’s quite simple: you love. You don’t turn a blind eye. You don’t hate the person. You don’t write them off as evil hypocrites. You don’t shun them. You love them.
James 5:19-20 tells it plainly in The Voice version: Brothers and sisters, if someone you know loses his way and rebels against God, pursue him in love and bring him back to the truth. 20 Know this: If you turn a sinner back from the error of his ways, then you will rescue him from the grips of death and cover the pain and consequences of untold sins.
What you do with sinners vs. the saved who are under grace is simple: you love both. Scripture seems to indicate here, though, that with other Song People, you have a right to be a bit more confrontational with them…in love.
Love covers a multitude of sins. God is love. Love and you’ll never regret it.
Happy relationship building!