The accusation of many Americans is that intolerance is equal to being unloving. That simply is not true. I understand that intolerance can be unloving, but it is not always the case. The Bible commands us to be both loving and intolerant of sinful behavior. However, we are not to let our intolerance be unloving. And it can become that very easily. Our fights are not with people but with sin and the author of sin, Satan.
The Bible says that God loved Jacob but hated Esau. And God can do that, he is God and can do as he pleases. But you and I are commanded to love everyone including our enemies. But at the same time we are not to tolerate, look the other way, or wink at sin.
The error is that to be tolerant is to be unloving. The very thing that many accuse Christians of, being unloving, is exactly what they are unknowingly are. If you love people, you tell them where they are wrong and you show them the correct way. If you love people, you tell them how they may have God and eternal life. The most unloving thing you can do is be silent on the matter.
But we are tell them with love not hate. I don’t want to fence in homosexuals and let them die out. I want to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. I want to tell them that their sin of homosexuality is no worse than my sin or anyone else’s sin. But it is sin. And the wages of their sin, my sin, and anyone’s sin is death, both physical and spiritual death. Spiritual death culminates in being punished for our sins in hell for eternity. BUT Jesus came to live a perfect life that sinner can not. He died a death on the cross, so that we would not. He was raised from the dead, so that we will one day also rise. The answer for all sin is Jesus Christ.
So we are to love sinners–all sinners. Terrible sinners and trivial sinners. Worldly sinners and church sinners. We are to love everyone, no matter their sins but we are not to tolerate their sins because toleration is the epitamy of lovelessness. May God produce the fruit of love in us to cause us to love sinners (everyone), be intolerant of sin (all sin), and share the Gospel with sinners (all sinners).
I was watching a TV evangelist the other day, I don’t know why. You know the kind, the kind that preaches a man-centered prosperity gospel that is aimed at making them prosper more than anything else. While trying to get over the sick feeling in my stomach that rises every time I see their pathetic presentation, I realized that they really have it right……..sort of.
Is it true that God’s movement toward us depends on obedience to his commands? Is it right, that the degree of blessedness is connected to the degree of obedience to his will? Does obedience bring God’s goodness raining down upon us? I have fought this kind of doctrine all my Christian life, this performance driven means of obtaining blessing. But I now know that they are partially correct.
Of, course they are dreadfully wrong on so many levels for they preach that not only does blessing depend on obedience but it is my obedience that it depends on. That is so misguided and foolish when you consider that all our obedience (righteousness) is filthy rags. Which means that we have no obedience that does not have at its core some selfish and sinful motive and agenda. How can God’s blessing depend upon that? It can’t and it doesn’t.
So how can they be right when they are so wrong? Because while God’s blessings do depend on and rest in obedience…..it does not depend on obedience that is ours. Every blessing of God arrives to us by His grace through the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ. His obedience that was fulfilled in His sinless life and in His substitutionary death. Obedience that was deemed by God to be good and sufficient in His glorious resurrection. It is not what we do that brings God’s blessings but what Jesus, the Son of God, has already done. Blessing does depend on obedience, but on Jesus’ and not ours.
The difference is seen in either God’s children striving, trying and doing better compared to God’s children who are resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Sabbath and He is Canaan. He is our rest. We have because He fights for us. My efforts merit only chastening but the work of Christ brings to us the blessings of God–every second, minute, hour, and every day.
So now, you decide. Live your life working and trying to catch God’s attention or rejoice and praise the one who already has God’s attention–Jesus Christ. Trust Him and rest in what He has accomplished for you, as you, and in you. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings because we are IN CHRIST.
Seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 — both evangelical and mainline — who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research. And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.
This alarming fact has an easy to recognize cause. Churches for the past 30 years have emphasized the entertaining of teenagers to build their youth programs. Much more effort has been put in to the style than the substance. The thrust has been placed on making it fun and exciting instead of being centered on the Word and being Christ-exalting. We have spent money on props and sets and all those things that attract but we give little time to the only thing that can truly transform a teenager—the Gospel. The Word is almost an after thought.
So when teenagers graduate out of the youth program to the regular church, all the glitter and excitement is missing. No skits, no sets, no pizza, nothing to make much of them. And so they disappear. It’s really not their fault. The blame lies with us. We have made them what they are. We have fed their narcissistic appetites. When we had the opportunity to invest time in the Gospel we were more concerned about them having fun. It hasn’t worked and it still doesn’t work.
We must be careful in our zeal to reach our kids that we don’t fail to reach them with the Gospel. We are not left here to build our youth program but to build His Kingdom. And we only get one chance. At the end of the day–only the Gospel will matter, not the skits, the sets, and the entertainment.
Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, went bankrupt in 2003, sold the franchise, and turned to other ventures. In an interview with World Magazine, he says how he realized that the “Christian” message of those talking vegetables was not Christianity at all.
“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . . .”
“And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god. So I had to peel that apart. I realized I’m not supposed to be pursuing impact, I’m supposed to be pursuing God. And when I pursue God I will have exactly as much impact as He wants me to have.”