A while back I ran across an article on OregonLive.com regarding some protesters who were demonstrating against Mars Hill Church’s latest Church plant in southeast Portland. These kinds of demonstrations (from both sides of the fence, read: Westboro Baptist Church and similar groups) seem to only further the divide, certainly these demonstrations don’t encourage a sensible discussion for each side to understand and see the other’s viewpoint (not necessarily agree, but at least get the full picture) and allow for real relationship. It seems most of the time we see “Christians” doing this kind of activity, but it goes to show that every group out there has their extremists.
The world has a hard time understanding how we can call something “sin”, such as homosexuality, because of the long list of connotations “sin” has as a word; and it has become nearly impossible to use the word and not provoke some kind of negative reaction. My definition of sin is simply this: The act of not obeying the Lord either in character as He has asked us through Biblical means, or by direct personal request. It’s also important to note that the Lord sees all sin exactly the same, each one is only one step away, and all He wants is for us to be right near Him – not one step away.
This is why it’s possible for me to see something as “sin” and not have it affect the love, basic human respect, and desire to enter into meaningful friendship with anyone who is willing. We (members of the Church) have to understand and accept the fact that people “outside” can’t possibly understand, and this is why the Good News/Gospel needs to be delivered (evangelism: to deliver the Good News), only the Lord can convict someone of their sin and cause true repentance (change). Our “job” is to live, breathe, speak the Good News as best we can; including recognizing and admitting when we turn away (sin) from God, so we can adjust and move closer to God again, not only as a witness for others, but out of a true relationship with God – as we would for our significant others and friends.
Probably the most important piece to understand is that the process of conviction, forgiveness, and restoration is not dependent on the people in Church telling those outside they are “sinners” – it’s dependent on each individual to accept what they hear from the Lord and be convicted of their position with God (being purposely away by their own choices), ask for forgiveness, and then seeking restoration with Him.
Where we people in the Church tend to mess things up, and it’s a horrible mistake, is taking what’s OK in the Church (holding our brothers and sisters accountable – in a graceful/concerning way, which is another blog post) and applying it to everyone outside of the Church as well. Nearly every scripture about confronting another person is about brother/sister to brother/sister (meaning another member of the Church) not much is said about confronting people outside the Church, except spreading and proclaiming the Good News (the news of Jesus as our Lord, and free grace to all, change your ways and live a full, never-ending life).
There’s a whole lot more I could attempt to write, but this entry would end up being 20+ pages in size 10 text… let’s just say insert a lot of stuff about Love, changing our ways (repentance), and the reality of human nature (sin), and the big picture that gets painted is that God is far more than the box we put Him in.