Anti Sin or Pro Jesus


Anti Sin or Pro Jesus


I believe there is a great contrast between Jesus and our natural tendency to insulate ourselves from people who do things we don’t like. Jesus called people to follow him. He made it clear what the cost of following him is, yet he didn’t shy away from those that were rejected by the religious establishment.

I’m helping a political party that holds a much different position than I do on certain issues. I have an opportunity to dialogue. I have an opportunity to engage with people on these issues. We share common ground on a lot of stuff. By being in the party I provide a notable example of an “non-extremist” evangelical. I believe there is a lot to be gained by accepting people where they are at and engaging with them. It really isn’t all that difficult when you find a lot of common ground.

Many Christians talk about hating the sin and loving the sinner. I question that as a frame for engaging the world. Is it the churches role to tell people to stop sinning and that they need forgiveness? As I consider the scriptures I see it is the church’s role to live lives of honesty, integrity and compassion, tell people that we follow Jesus, and they should follow Jesus as well. I should add that we should follow Jesus because he is who he is, and not because we get some sort of benefit out of it.

I believe the hate the sin/love the sinner comes from a paradigm that elevates “biblical values” over Christ himself. Jesus is curiously absent from the picture. It says this person is doing something I find offensive so I will love them and tell them to stop. The problem with this is that righteousness doesn’t come from the absence of offensive behaviour. We can be fully submitted to “biblical values” and not be a shred more righteous than anyone else. The pivotal issue isn’t the presence of sin which is universal, but the absence of Christ.

Jesus ate with the sinners and even went to their parties. By engaging with people on their turf we give ourselves and opportunity to the live the gospel. At the very least we can dispel many of the myths and misconceptions that come out because we insulate ourselves from the rest of the world.

  1. #1 by scotty on April 26, 2004 - 10:35 am

    Good stuff LT. People I’ve met recently see the church as “anti” a lot of things but don’t really know that it’s “for” anything. Many churches seem to define “acceptance” as “stop sinning and become like everyone else here”. But that is not how Christ operated. Yes he felt strongly about sin, but the presence of sin didn’t prevent him from engaging people in their own space. When people realize that you don’t have plans to judge their lifestyles, the open dialogue is quite refreshing and many points of view that may be new appear. Many church programs operate as “let’s bring them into our building and engage with them under our rules” but could it be that going to their places of dialogue and comfort and listening to where their heart lies first is a far superior option? Chilling at a campaign office or pub (at least in my experience) has been must better for great conversation and genuine listening than any church building I’ve been in, regardless of where a person sits on the religious scale.

  2. #2 by George on April 26, 2004 - 2:42 pm

    Leighton, you said somewhere else that you are wrestling with this issue, or words to that effect and that’s a good thing. Becoming involved in the political arena with the Liberals

    because you agree with them on some of the issues.

    Will you stand for Christ when the opportunity arises? Will you stand for the rights of the unborn when your candidate brings up the issue?

    Where does your candidate stand on that issue?

    I’m all for engaging sinners I’m one of them myself.

    When you engage sinners and it becomes evident that the problem is the sin, do you think it should be pointed out and talked about or do you just ignore that?

    Can anybody grow in their relationship with Christ if the sin problem isn’t dealt with?

    Can anybody initially come to Christ if they don’t deal with their sin problem?

    If I am engaged in sexual immorality can I continue in that and still have a relationship with Christ?

    You said:” Is it the churches role to tell people to stop sinning and that they need forgiveness?” Is it not? Should we not talk about the sin problem at church? If people come forward in your church and tell you they wish to have a relationship with Christ what exactly do you tell them?

    How does real life transformation take place?

    Is the turning from sin and embracing Christ by faith not the first step?

    How exactly does one come to faith in Christ?

    How do I know if I’m saved?

    What does my life look like if I am saved and what is the sanctification process all about?

    In the sanctification process will I not, on a daily basis, consider my sin problem and as I am moulded more and more into the image of Christ how does that show in my conduct and how I addresss the sin in my life?

    Ok that’s it for now. That’s a lot of questions and I have lots more. I appreciate your posts and believe you are touching on the topics that should be brought to the forefront in the Christian community.

    I personally believe that is the biggest problem in so many Christian churches and Christian lives. The unwillingness to address sin.

    That was the biggest problem in my own life and it was only when I dealt with it that I began to experience the victorious life that can only be found in submission to Christ and to His Word. Only in submission is there real peace and contentment and hope.

    What’s the narrow road for a North American Christian in 2004? How do I know if I’m on it?

    Christ said we can only enter on the narrow road. What does that look like in 2004?

    I’m not expecting any kind of a response, just maybe some stuff to think about.

  3. #3 by Lyle McRae on April 26, 2004 - 7:47 pm

    George. First, IMO, LT is a good Christian and I have no doubt about it in my mind.

    But as a statesman, how does Leighton represent the diversity of Canada? Canada is a diverse country of people of other religions and beliefs in this country. The diversity of Canada(and USA) is the part that makes it so bold and so beautiful to so many others in the world.

    As a statesman, does LT respect the beliefs and Freedoms of others and show them the path and hope they follow…. Or does turn his nose at their beliefs, and FORCE them down the path he believes?

    How does he make the Catholics and the Protestants happy at the same time?

    The Muslims and the Christians?

    The Taoists and the Buddists?

    The English and the French?

    The Flame Fans and the Redwing Fans?

    I Think….As a Christian (or as an individual), LT should follow the word of God and never sway from it. It is his actions that will be judged by God.

    In fact, each person should be able to act as they feel appropriate for their religion/ beliefs/ values. The only exception is if it impedes the rights of others. (So if I want to Sacrifice a virgin, that is taking away the rights of that virgin, so it should be outlawed).

    But as a statesman, you must respect the view of others. If you don’t respect others, you get wierd things in history like the Magdalene Laundries, the Spanish Inquistion and Slavery.

  4. #4 by Beck on April 27, 2004 - 12:01 am

    Leighton,

    I liked what you said in this blog. Christians can tend to fall into the habit of being judgemental and distant. Which is definately not what Jesus was.

    When it comes to hating sin though… I think it is possible to hate sin and still be Christlike/compassionate. I hate sin because it ruins lives and distances us from God. It breaks my heart to see my friends and family members consumed by “sinful” things that are hurting them. I think it is okay to hate what sin does in people’s hearts as long as we don’t distance ourselves from them because we find it unpleasant to be around.

  5. #5 by Linea on April 27, 2004 - 5:09 am

    It’s kind of a cliché, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” and I think if we did that we’d be OK. Problem is we have a hard time separating the sin from the sinner so we seem to either become critical of or isolate ourselves from the sinners.

    Maybe one of our big problems is that we like to become the judges of what is sin in other peoples lives. Sometimes it is pretty obvious because of what it is doing to them, sometimes it is way more subtle. The sin in our own lives we justify somehow and maybe try to diminish by pointing out the big sins in others.

    People need to see us living out the good news – maybe especially in politics. I’d love to have someone in politics make me less sceptical. So go for it – be a light in a dark place.

  6. #6 by Mark Humphries on April 27, 2004 - 1:02 pm

    “love the sinner hate the sin” is a cliche that does little to help us approach people the way Christ would. I have heard christians tell someone this slogan as a means to try and convince them of God’s love. In reality people often do not seperate their behaviour from how they view themselves so in a postmodern world telling someone you love them but hate their behaviour is contradictory. The obvious example is homosexuality.

  7. #7 by George on April 27, 2004 - 5:45 pm

    Hey Leighton, did you delete a post of mine?

  8. #8 by Jason on May 2, 2004 - 9:09 am

    LT,

    I really appreciate your latest entry. As a Christian pastor, I realize more and more each day how impossible it is for most to “love the sinner and hate the sin.” Somehow, that always turns into “hate the sinner”. Keep engaging in meaningful dialogue with the people who need to hear God’s heart (and who doesn’t???). Show them a love that isn’t afraid to invest time in their lives and get your hands dirty. Jesus is your life. He is your righteousness. Keep your eyes on Him.

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