One of the truths that has struck me in recent years, and one not every Christian is willing to consider, is that nearly every tribe, tongue, and nation has some concept of sin. Those tribes, tongues, and nations may view sin in a way that does not conform to orthodox Christian theology, but the acknowledgment that you/me/us has somehow done something wrong to anger “the gods” remains.
Where the divide comes is how you/me/us deals with that sin, and this makes for the most obvious differences between Christians and everyone else. In nearly all religions, some element of works righteousness exists, and while none should in Christianity, I’d say the majority of the world’s Christians are still trying to earn their way out of their sin or the consequences of it.
But that huge topic is another post.
This morning, I read the Outreach Magazine newsletter and an article in it, “5 Things Jesus Says to the Gay Community.” I’d like to say that I resisted considering what that article would NOT say, but I am weak and came to it expecting not to see a few Things Jesus Says even if He did, in reality, say them.
I wish I could say the article surprised me. I wish I could say that.
If anyone questions our status in the Last Days before the return of Christ, it is enough to know that while ancient pagans who participated in all manner of perverse activity still maintained some concept of personal sin, we don’t seem to have any concept of this today. Sin seems to be relegated to the other guy OR to political parties OR to groups with bad public relations departments OR to jerks who can’t manage their carbon offsets properly.
Reading “5 Things Jesus Says to the Gay Community,” one does not get the sense that at any time Jesus wants to say “stop sinning” or “repent, or you will all likewise perish.” Those statements of His are in the Bible, though. While it’s true they are not aimed at any one sin, the fact is that they are aimed at everyone and they cover every sin is what should make them an obvious addition to anything Jesus says.
The problem for the Church today is that some elements within it seek to silence those words that accompany those concepts that make people uncomfortable. Or those same folks dance around truth like it’s a primed hand grenade, hoping that some other poor schmuck will take the risk to stick the pin back in. This is happening because we have become purposefully dishonest about Mankind’s status before God. We find it impossible to say without caveats, “Actually, I am a bad human being,” and have that badness mirror what God says is bad rather than what Man says is bad (“You wore white after Labor Day? For shame!”) Even the ancients knew that something was grossly wrong within them, yet in declaring ourselves immune to such gross wrongness today, we see the language associated with that wrong decay and go missing. In the end, we find we can’t express truth in any way that makes life uncomfortable for anyone, and every Gospel appeal sounds like little else than salve for bruised egos.
When the Church can’t bring itself to state the obvious, then it has lost whatever force God has endowed it with. And Jesus had something to say about that:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
—Matthew 5:13 ESV
5 thoughts on “Church of the Missing Words”
I went to the link you gave and I felt the article was better than I expected. In fact I can see where this article can be a good “first outreach” for skeptical gays. However, there must be something more after this, basically what your post today said. In other words, the article’s points, while Biblical and somewhat OK, is very incomplete.
If you went to a lavish wedding that had the best guests, an amazing wedding dress, the bride and groom looking better than you’d ever seen them, heart-swelling testimonies of love and devotion uttered, not a dry eye in the house, and the wedding reception brought in the Zurich Symphony Orchestra and featured food from Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame, but when the bride and groom ultimately kissed at the end, she announced she was moving to a convent in Italy, while a helicopter lands and the groom runs into it, saying to everyone he was attempting a solo crossing of Antarctica equipped with nothing but a pair of flips-flops and a can of SPAM, you’d have to say that’s about the nuttiest thing you’ve ever witnessed. Where’s the wedding night? Where’s the lifelong commitment?
That’s kind of the same feeling I had when I read those five items in that article. Spectacular run-up, but no payoff.
I know you are no fan of what some young people are doing to the Church today, but I have to say I actually thought of what you would think because it sounds like the kind of thing a 20-something SoCal Evangelical who voted for Obama–twice–would have written.
I agree with you that the majority of it is solid, but it has no request for change. It doesn’t ask for the person to hand over the idol, that thing that is keeping them from Jesus, the stumbling block they want to hold onto. And this issue is one of the biggest stumbling blocks out there. But anyone who wants to follow Jesus has to lay that thing aside or else they will go the way of the rich, young ruler, who did everything right except for the one thing that would have saved his soul.
Great article. The church in America is sick today. Years ago when my wife was a medical resident in the ER, she learned that when she asked a patient if they had used any illicit drugs, she had to be specific.
They would always say no, but when she ran through the list of “illicit” drugs, they would fess up to whatever they were actually using. The crack addict would act shocked that she considered crack an illicit drug. In their mind it wasn’t anything bad, like heroine, of course.
Today God’s people have chosen to believe that they are not that bad off, really. We don’t need Jesus as a savior, but maybe just as a self-help guru. After all, we’re not doing heroine or anything really bad.
I probably should have defined more why I said what I did. I usually would no say it as you correctly guessed. But in this I stance I applaud it because of the audience—the GLBT community. If you are a SoCal evangelical of any age, you probably live near, work with, etc. many of the gay community, and perhaps even have a few gay friends. To this group, we need to go slow at first and then as we build their trust, help them understand the full persona of God, not just a lover, but also a judge. But the gospel (good news) is that God has provided a solution so they won’t be a judgement for His adoption sons and daughters who truly repent and receive Christ’s substitionary work for them, via the cross. Then, in addition, the church needs to get on their face to God and plead with Him to show them how to deliver these former gays and lesbians from this affliction once they become Christians, as the evangelical church seems to have no answer for them after they receive Christ.
Psalm 51:3 “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” I had that sense before I knew David’s words existed. I keep a consciousness of who I am and what He has rescued me from in the forefront of my mind – the better to help others know He can rescue even the likes of me, and if me, then maybe you…
The article looks interesting enough that I’ll read it in a bit, but right now? Back to being a servant.