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.