Have you ever been told that by a Christian? Or have you, more indirectly, felt like that was a Christian’s view of you? I have been told that directly, by a former co-worker actually – said co-worker still having a job at a prominent Christian organization. Let me say that, definitely, rejection is never comfortable. But it can evolk several responses in a person:
- Wow, $%(^ you!
- Wow, I AM a sinner, what do I need to change?
- Wow, you’re right, I am going to go kill myself.
- Wow, you holier-than-thou Christians really kind of suck.
Honestly, especially for non-Christians, do you think #2 is often the response? Doesn’t the Bible suggest that the Holy Spirit is the best at convicting us, and that we should love our neighbors? But I am not a theologian – I just know the response I got didn’t immediately make me want to repent of “the sin” in my life. I do not put “my sin” because I believe there is no sin in my life; actually, I am very good at sinning at times. However, I have a Biblical view of my salvation and changed life thanks to Andrew Farley’s “The Naked Gospel”. But I am not going to get into THAT today. However…..
It ALWAYS amazes me how many Christians (and yes, there are some that don’t fall into this category) have this view of Christianity that you become perfect and somehow “untouchable” after years of being a saint and being regenerated by God. Theology aside, they act as if their poop don’t stink and they have somehow risen above the taint of sin on earth. They go to their churches, live a “perfect” life without sin, and raise their noses, brush off their three piece suit or their pleated skirts to show us just how high they’ve risen. They SAY they “sin”, but are saved by grace. They may even SAY “love the sinner, hate the sin!” Yet, the minute they are exposed to a “fallen” person who do not meet their earthly measurement of what a Christian should look like, they respond with something like, “I don’t associate with sinners!” Sometimes they might even justify this response by saying Christ admonished them not to be “of the world”, and by associating with sinners, they would somehow condone the sinful practices and even taint the name of Christ? “How will they know we are even Christians, if we wallow in the same filth they do? How will we shine like a beacon on a hill, if we sit with common sinners, partaking in the lust and debauchery that their lives represent?”
They make a great point. And, as someone who has sinned pretty well, and as one who has sometimes thrown her middle finger at dogma and “God inspired hatred”, I say this – I believe you got it wrong. How will they even know you are Christians, you ask? I argue that it would have been that you LOVED the ones that the WORLD (yes, especially the CHRISTIAN world) that convention says you should not. I argue that, a true beacon cannot be seen when it is standing next to the sun, but when it walks to the dark. I say to be an ambassador of Christ, you kind of need to act like Him on occasion. Your fruits will be that you are turning those TO Christ instead of pushing them out of His house! And what DID Jesus do?
We know that Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of hanging with sinners. Even DINING with them, a HUGE faux paux! And most examples in the Bible suggest that Jesus was first LOVING and FILLED WITH COMPASSION when confronted by a sinner. The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the rich young man who was unwilling to give up his wealth to follow Jesus, even when his OWN disciple rejected Him THREE TIMES…..the list goes on.
Ah, but you say, what about the time he threw tables over in the Temple? He was SO MAD and let everyone around know it! THIS proves that we can say, with the authority of God, that we will not put up with the sin that is all around us! Let’s think about that. The Temple was considered holy. Yet, the religious leaders of the time were taking advantage of those that wanted to do what their God commanded, and only in the name of making money. Many would trek to the temple with their sacrifices (animals), only to be told their goat was marred or their calf was not perfect. So, conveniently, there the leaders were there with GOOD animals that could be bought and the sacrifice could be accomplished!!!!! And wow, such a deal too! Or the money changers were gauging the people, all in the name of God. THAT is what ticked off Jesus – that these supposed holy men were using God to make a profit. And that is NOT how it’s done! (But, alas, perhaps it’s still happening today? Another post for sure!) I won’t even get into the story of the Pharisee’s prayer vs the pauper….
Finally, especially to the person who told me they will not associate with me because I am a sinner…….what makes my sin any bigger than yours? Are you truly suggesting that you have risen to a higher level than me somehow? Because, again sorry to bring up the Bible, I am a Christian and I am saved by the same Jesus as you. Are you implying that His blood was less effective on me? Because I know with certainty that the Bible said I would continue to sin – not that it is giving me license to sin – but it’s pretty darn clear that it also says the blood of Christ – and Christ himself – is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever. And it also tells me nothing I can do can get me into heaven. And that suggests that nothing I can do, once I have been saved by the awesome power of my Savior, can keep me out of it. Unless, of course, I reject Jesus……which is highly unlikely, despite the crap I’ve been thrown by those of some of His followers!
So, to recap – have fun hanging around those people you deem as “righteous” enough or “redeemed” enough to meet your standards. As for me, I am REALLY going to do what Jesus does, and love my neighbor as myself without adding criteria that shouldn’t be there.
Please, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m off base, please let me know.