Where is the balance?
How do you balance being a Christian with conviction, and yet still have a heart of love and compassion? How do you NOT come across as a fire and brimstone fundamentalist and still hold on to your soul of biblical belief? How do you love the sinner and still hate the sin? Is this balance even possible? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and are passionate about following Him, if you believe in the Word of God and truly love people then you know exactly what I am talking about.
Just in the above paragraph I probably have already offended people and I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff…yet! Just wait, I am certain to really upset people in a bit! What can I say? It must be a gift!
I am writing this article on October 18th, 2014. It is my son’s 26th birthday. When my son was born 26 years ago, I never would have thought we as a church would be facing some of the things we are facing today. Just in the last few days a couple of newsworthy stories have come to light.
1. Annise Parker
Annise is Houston’s first openly gay Mayor. She lead the charge to subpoena local Pastors to give up their sermons and private emails. Why? Because they opposed Houston’s “Bathroom Bill.” What is that you might ask? Recently Houston passed an ordinance where people who were confused whether they were a man or woman had the right to visit the bathroom of their choosing. Does this concern you? Evidently it concerned a lot of citizens in the Houston area because more than 50,000 signatures were collected to attempt to repeal the ordinance by a referendum. The city disqualified (or threw out) enough of them so the question was removed from the ballot. The Mayor didn’t want to hear the voice of the people. Long story short, many Pastors who opposed the ordinance have been subpoenaed to give up their sermons and emails to see if they “crossed the line” in their endeavors.
Is this the first step of the Government telling Pastors what they can and cannot preach from their pulpits?
2. The Hitching Post wedding chapel
Donald and Evelyn Knapp are both ordained ministers in Coeur D’alene, Idaho. They were recently threatened by city officials that if they denied performing a same sex wedding ceremony,they would face jail time and/or thousands of dollars in fines. Donald and Evelyn, both in their 60’s have run “Hitching Post Wedding Chapel” for more than 25 years. They use the chapel as a ministry to share God’s Word and love about the purpose of marriage. Yes, marriage between a man and a woman.
Again, is this a sign of the times where ministers and churches will be forced to marry people, even if it goes against their religious convictions?
3. Hillsong church
Hillsong is one of the largest churches in the world. They recently came in the news for their stance, or lack of stance on the subject of Homosexuality. Carl Lentz, The Pastor of Hillsong’s New York based church was quoted, “Jesus never talked about homosexuality, and therefore Hillsong won’t do so either.” His wife was then heard to say, “Who are we to judge?” Lentz went on to say, “It’s not our place to tell anyone how they should live, it’s – that’s their journey.” Thankfully Hillsong’s founding Pastor, Byron Houston, of the 30,000 attended church in Australia came out yesterday claiming to believe that the Bible does teach against homosexuality.
Please understand, I am not a homophobic person. I have family members, very close friends, and even fellow believers that are in the gay lifestyle. I love them and they love me. They would testify that I am a pretty nice guy. But they also know my conviction on what I believe the Word of God teaches. Saying all this, here is my question. How do we have a conversation with people without coming across as a closed minded, old fashioned, bigoted fundamentalist who hates? Have we reached the point in society that if you take a stand on biblical values you will be labeled as one of those haters? Drum roll please……..and the answer is, yes, I’m afraid we have. But it doesn’t mean we have to act that way. There’s no doubt we live in different times. Can we make a difference? If so, how? There are a lot of things I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that we change the world one person at a time, and that person starts with me.
My church knows what I believe. I’m pretty straight with them. But I try not to preach to them about sins they have a handle on. It’s pretty easy to get an “Amen” on sin that “others” struggle with. I’m lucky to get an “O Me” when I talk about sin that hits close to home. It would be like preaching to a room full of obese people about the sin of anorexia …. Well, you get the point….
A truth that has lived through the centuries comes from Paul’s pen:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” 2 Timothy 4:2-3 (NASB)
I googled it a bit ago and one source says there are 667 different sins listed in the Bible. Homosexuality is only one of them. Leave it up the Devil to get us so focused on just one… that one. So here’s my point. Love people. Share the Gospel. Live the Gospel. Be the Gospel. Don’t shrink back from biblical convictions. Don’t be afraid to call sin…sin! You can love the sinner and hate the sin. Stand up for what is right but remember how you were drawn to the Lord. You weren’t drawn by someone’s hate and judgment. The Holy Spirit convicted you of your sin. He drew you to Himself. Hopefully God’s people loved you to Him. Maybe they corrected you, but hopefully you knew that they loved you and did it with gentleness. Make no mistake; you are going to be misunderstood by the world no matter what you do. But before you hammer someone about their “one sin” you might want to get rid of the 666 other sins that you practice. 666? Really? Why did it have be 666? I might need to find another web source….
Something to think about,