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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Isn't it harsh to talk about sin?

Dear Debbie,

I really love reading your posts.  You do a great job of explaining the tough issues especially about family matters.  I am wondering about your last post.  Isn't it kind of harsh?  I don't think my pastor wants fame.  It's true that he's never been in my home, but I get the impression that he does care about the people he preaches to......  Could you also explain why you spend so much time discussing politics and church when your blog is called Family tracks.      -J

Dear J

Thanks for writing and giving me permission to answer your questions publicly.

Of course there are thousands of wonderful pastors who do care about the people they serve.  You can never lump everyone into the same pot.  But, there are a few facts we must consider. 

First of all, sin is harsh.  There's just no way around the fact that when people engage in sin - life will be harsh.  I have a choice.  I can do the popular politically correct thing and simply look the other way - or I can love my readers enough to be honest about what I see. 

I spend a lot of time fasting and praying for my family, my friends, my readers and the world.  I hate sin.  I hate the destruction it causes and the way it changes the hopes and dreams of those who must suffer through it.  I know that the best thing I can do for those I love is to be honest and confront sin. 

Is it more loving to say nothing and let my readers march to judgement with hidden sin - or - tell the truth, help my readers get rid of sin and then rejoice with them when we all make heaven?

Sin is a lot like the Abraham Lincoln quote. "How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."  How true.  Many contemporary Christians want to rename sins.  They think if they find a way to "accept" or "justify" sin that God will go along with them. 

I have a healthy respect for the power of God.  I understand that GOD is the final word.  It really doesn't matter what I think.  I'm not going to judge people.  The only voice that really matters in all this is the voice of God.  The only opinion that really matters is God's. 

No one has God's permission to change the rules.  There is nothing in the Bible that even hints that we have the right to change his word in order to please others.  In fact, there are many scriptures that warn against doing just that!

Let me restructure yesterday's example.  Let's suppose you die and you find yourself standing before God.  He begins to ask questions about your life.  Some of it is good but then he comes to one of the major sins.  He asks..."You never repented over this sin.  In fact, you told others that you didn't believe a loving God would require you to rid your life of this sin.  I gave you over 15 scriptures including 4 that said "Thou shalt not" and you still continued in the sin.  What part of no didn't you understand?"

I don't believe at that point that you will stiffen your shoulders and argue with the Almighty All powerful God.  Will you have the courage to say, "Well excuse me.  I just couldn't believe that you would get yourself in a snit over that.  After all, you tell us to be compassionate.  Where is your compassion?  My pastor didn't tell me I had to be so stiff.  My friends didn't encourage me to stop - why should you?  I thought you said you loved me.  Why would you take this fun thing away from me?  I didn't hurt anyone with it - well, not anyone that was important.  You're just being mean."

Can you imagine anyone saying that to God?  That brings us back to what I've said many times before.  God made us.  He knows how our bodies, minds and hearts work.  He knows what will give us a great life and what will not.  He is also a holy and righteous God.  There are some absolutes that he can not accept.  He will never be okay with sin!  It is our job to learn about his character, his demands and his love.  Once we get in line with his plan for our lives...we find out that it is a thousand times more satisfying than anything we might choose to hang on to. 

Have you ever seen a spoiled child making a huge fuss and hanging on to a broken piece of candy that he found in the dirt?  "Mine, mine, mine.  This is mine and you can't have it."  The adult is trying to calm the child down and explain if he will throw away the broken dirt laden piece of candy, he can choose a brand new piece from a pile of new lollipops.  The child refuses to listen and continues to fuss and scream. 

Another child who has been taught some discipline and logic, listens to her mother, relinquishes her candy and marches into the store to pick out something wonderful.

That's the scene I imagine when I hear so-called Christians fighting for their right to lie or steal or have an affair or hurt the generation that preceded them.  Christians are to be mature, logical, kind and understanding.  We are to follow God's rules, study his word, live a sin free life and be prepared to move into eternity at any moment. 

Ephesians 5:25-27

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

While this verse begins with a directive for husbands, it also goes on to confirm what many other verses teach - Jesus loved the church (that's all of us) and he loved us enough to die for us.  But....he wants us to be sanctified, clean and to present ourselves to him without any blemishes.  No spots, no wrinkles or anything that might be displeasing to a holy God.
That means that we are charged with seeking out and destroying the sin that may be in our own lives.  Yes, J - that's often harsh.  That means that we look at ourselves and are willing to say, "You know, I better not do that anymore.  That might not be where God wants to take me. 
Churches are changing.  Like a huge wave crossing this country, churches have the idea that bigger is better and that being hip is best.  They have bought into the thought that if they look like the people they want to preach to, that maybe those people will feel comfortable and will accept Christ.  Unfortunately there's bad theology in these new ideas. 
Jesus Christ doesn't need your help!  He doesn't need us to change him in order for him to appeal to a sinful man.  He doesn't need a publicist or a go between.  He doesn't need your rationalization as to how to make him more pleasing.  Jesus Christ can touch anyone he chooses.  He doesn't need special music and he doesn't need to be accepted.  He doesn't need to be repackaged or redesigned.  All he needs is one willing Christian to speak up and say, "Do you know Jesus?"  He can pretty much take it from there.
Remember Saul?  Saul killed Christians. Acts Chapter 9 begins with "Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples..."  Saul worked for the Jewish High Priests and was delighted anytime he found a Christian he could kill. 
God didn't need any one's help.  God struck Saul with a light from heaven.   He fell off his horse and was immediately blinded.  God sent him to Ananias who prayed, (vs. 13-15) "God I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem.  And he has come here with authority from the Chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."  But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kinds and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
Can you imagine if Ananias had said, "Well God, I think maybe if I just accept him like he is and if I eat what he eats and dress like he dresses - maybe then he won't be so angry about you."
God and Jesus didn't need Ananias's help.  They had the situation well under control.  It's always wrong and actually very sinful to rob God of his character and who He is.  When we do that we strip him down to some namby pamby grandfather without the authority to rule.
Want proof?  The Barna group says that over 76% of today's youth is leaving the church.  What reason do they give?  The church isn't representing the true nature of God.   Hum.....
As far as why I talk about politics, religion and other issues - it's because families are not islands.  You are raising adults that will be sent into the world to leave their mark.  They will face all the things we talk about on this blog.  If you don't train them to handle false teachers, to date, to vote  - to be a light to this world - they will fail the first time they meet some negative issue.  You and I need to discuss what's happening in the world so you can pass on a logical solution to your child.  You and I need to discuss issues so your family can practice and become strong influences in the future.
Hope that helps....keep the questions coming.
God loves you,

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