What do people think of when they think of today’s church?
Many think of criticism, xenophobia, hypocrites, and hatred. How can a loving God call gays an abomination? How can pastors preach sexual purity while they’re having several affairs? Why are Christians so judgmental? Sure, this doesn’t describe every Christian. But it describes enough. That’s why we have this problem. Something I struggle with is the line between biblical discernment and trying to take God’s place as lawgiver and judge. I begin to obsess over details and taxonomy. Is this technically a sin? How bad of a person are they for doing that? I start to pray that so-and-so would just stop doing such-and-such and being the way that they are. I claim to love them, but only give them conditional respect.
Here’s the danger in that: I’ve now put myself in a position where I have the arrogance to believe I have any place to choose what is and isn’t sin, who is and isn’t righteous, who is and isn’t right with God. James warns us, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). Only Jesus sets the law. And only Jesus gets to judge who’s in line with it. And only Jesus is able to save and destroy. It is only because of Jesus that we can be saved from destruction in the first place! We as Christians must humble ourselves so deeply and remember that not one of us is righteous apart from Jesus.
I don’t say any of this to claim that we don’t have a role in the spreading of Truth. We are called to be the salt of the Earth (Matthew 5:13) and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). Everything we do should stem from the desire to make Jesus known! If we see sin in someone, we should absolutely want them to be free of it. We can pray for people and for them to go and sin no more, and those prayers might just get answered! But, here’s where we stumble. If we’ve prayed the whole world into solid morals and good behavior, things would sure be a lot nicer down here, but what have we really accomplished? Everyone could have the time of their lives and live in loving kindness, but what for?
Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). The truest forms of peace, salvation, and joy come from Christ alone. Before we allow ourselves to get caught up in fixing those trapped in sin, we must make a priority of getting God into the picture. There’s nothing that anyone needs more than to know that there is a great God that loves them and cares for them. Introduce them to Jesus first, then let Jesus do what he does best. How backward is it that we try to save people in order to eventually introduce them to the One who actually saves them? We really ought to bench ourselves and let the Real Deal steal the show. We are far too broken to take the lead when one’s eternity is at stake.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such
From Him to me to you,