With the rise of social media and the ability to hide behind the anonymity of a screen, people have become more and more bold in standing up for their beliefs. Well let’s be honest, bold is the wrong term. People have become jerks about their beliefs. Unfortunately Christians haven’t been above this new found sense of boldness.
I think the bottom line is Christians are standing for truth without grace. Truth without grace is just cruel. While grace without truth is rather pointless. Tim Keller says it this way: Truth without grace is not really truth. And grace without truth is not really truth.
I recently searched the internet for what non-christians think about Christians. I came across this interesting article, What Non-Christians want Christians to Hear. The article features a dozen or so responses that the author received from readers about what they wish Christians would change. What’s interesting is that most of what the responders name has something to do with Christians holding onto truth without grace. In other words, Christians are trying to be the moral police for the world, and that needs to stop.
Stop Being Surprised How Non-Christians Act
We seem so surprised when non-christians act like non-christians. This has always baffled me about Christians. We seem so surprised when those that don’t follow Jesus act like they don’t follow Jesus. The problem isn’t their actions; the problem is that they don’t know the love of Jesus. Fixing their actions won’t change anything. Introducing them to Jesus will.
We need to stop focusing on peoples’ actions and start engaging their hearts. What if we got to know their story, who they are, and why they act the way they do before we ever talked about their sin?
The Problem Isn’t Sin
The problem isn’t sin, the problem is the heart. Sin is a symptom of a much deeper problem. When we go around policing the world of the sin and bad morals we are focusing on the wrong thing. We can make someone look and sound like Jesus, and even pee in the “correct” bathroom, but that doesn’t make them a Christian. It’s just a facade, and we are trying to make them appear acceptable to us.
I suspect that it makes us more comfortable when everyone is behaving like a Christian. But that’s not what Jesus called us to do. Jesus wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty; he wasn’t afraid to walk into messy situations.
Listen, Jesus’ ultimate goal is not to stop everyone from sinning; it’s to bring people back into a relationship with him. It’s a heart issue not a sin issue. Now sin still needs to be dealt with because it keeps us from God and put Jesus on the cross. But getting rid of sin alone does not restore a relationship to God. I have found that God often captures people’s heart first and then deals with sin second. We’ve got to stop zeroing in on sin and instead focus on building relationships. People are not projects; they are people.
Jesus First Engaged the Person
Often we attack the sin we see, thus attacking the person. I know we don’t see it that way, but they do. We excuse our actions by saying “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” But our words and actions come off as attacks and not love. Jesus didn’t do that.
Can we just agree that we need to just simply go love people? It’s not our job to convert people and convict people. That’s God’s job. Our job is to go show the love of Christ to the world. Jesus seems more concerned with the people than he did their actions. He would eat with sinners (Matthew 9:10), which got him in trouble, yet today many Christians won’t even walk into a bar.
Let me be clear, we are called to call out sin… in other Christians’ lives. There are many verses about correcting a fellow Christian in their sin out of love with gentleness. However we are not called to judge the world. We are called to go show them the love of Christ, and let God convict them. We are called to engage the people not just point out their sin.
We Need 100% Grace and 100% Truth… Not 50/50.
If you follow Jesus’ actions he was always acting out of 100% grace and 100% truth. He firmly stood for what is right, but it was in love. Often when we stand for what is right we are just being jerks (and hypocrites after all). We know we are right, so we throw it down everyones’ throats. Think of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Jesus didn’t condemn her. In fact he stood up to the people that were condemning her. He chases all her accusers away. Not until after all the accusers left, he calmly and loving told her to “go and sin no more.” Jesus didn’t give her a lecture. He didn’t point out every mistake she ever made, but rather he rescued her (grace) and told her to go and sin no more (truth).
I wonder if this same scenario was played out today with a homosexual person, or a drug addict, or worse yet a liberal. How many of us would be standing there accusing that person? How many of us would Jesus stand up to and chase away?
I once heard a pastor say this: If everybody loves you then you probably aren’t standing for anything. If nobody loves you then you are probably a jerk. The person that stands for grace and truth will have a little of both.
I think often we like to be the moral police because it makes us feel better about our sin. We can think, “at least I’m not as bad as them. At least I don’t struggle with that sin.” We judge our sins on a sliding scale thinking that if we can just be better than the bottom 50% then we will make it into heaven. That’s not how it works. All sin, even the white lie, separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). But Jesus’ grace covers even the worst of sins. Simply put, we are all sinners with no hope of salvation apart from God. We are all equal, nobody better nobody worse.