Friday, July 13, 2018

We are the people of Whosoever Will not Whatsoever Goes

Let’s talk about this homosexual question.  Today the practice of homosexual relations is accepted as normal in many cultures around the world.  The world will be the world that’s nothing new.  What is new is the position that many churches take on this issue, namely that homosexual relations is no longer a sin.

We could start in Leviticus with a couple instances directly aimed at this matter.  In fact, such homosexual relations were deemed worthy of the death penalty, but in fairness so were many other transgressions. 

But let’s start a little farther back by jumping forward to the gospels.  In Mark, Jesus states:

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

The original design was for a man and a woman to be united as husband and wife.  Two become one.  One man and one woman. 

The world might say that this whole one man and one-woman thing was to populate the world, and the world has more than 7 billion people.  So what does a little same-sex sex, no chance of having kids, matter to God now that he has a whole bunch of people?

The world might say, if it doesn’t hurt anyone, who cares?

The world might say, you guys never seem to get it right, why bother us when we try something different.

The world might say, what I do in the confines of my own home or my own stall in a restroom is nobody’s business.

That’s the world.  What is the church to say?  Are some of the 613 laws not applicable anymore?  Not all of the decrees and laws really impacted everyone to begin with.  If you didn’t’ raise livestock or grow crops, some of the laws were just nice to know.  If you were not a priest, you could just say, “I hope he does everything right when I bring my sacrifice.”

Here is the first and foremost thing that the church must say:  Love one another.  That statement is made without qualification.  That means we love those whom we like and agree with, those who disagree with us, strangers and aliens, the poor and homeless, those in prison, even our enemies, and those who just come across our path.  Our mission is love.

Yes, that includes showing God’s love for the homosexual.

But we also show God’s love for the thief and the adulterer. We love the guy whose language is filthier than two sailors in a cussing contest.  We even love the murderer.  Jesus said love your enemy.

The key factor in all of this is us and our love not the condition of everyone else.  We who are in the body of Christ have an extra special love for each other, but no one is excluded from our love.  Love one another comes without qualification.

So, is it no longer a sin to engage in same-sex sex?  Nothing in God’s decrees has changed.  Jesus said that not one pen stroke of the law would disappear.  These decrees still convict our hearts.  They still point us to our need for a Savior.  They still lead us to Jesus.

The heart of Leviticus is to be holy as God is holy.  This mindset continues into the New Testament.  Be holy as God is holy.  God gave his people these laws for their own good.  He told them that the people in the land that they were promised and would soon take possession of, had practiced these things.  His own people were to be different.  They were special to the Lord.

Their charge, and it’s ours now too, is to be holy as God is holy.  Do we practice everything in the law?  No.  We are counseled that living a life governed by love fulfills the law.  Such a life does no harm to others and brings glory to God.

We live by love.  What does that mean in our relationships with homosexual people?

We love you but won’t lie to you.  As we grow in God’s grace, we are called to speak the truth in love.  So what is the truth in this situation?

If a person told us that they were about to murder someone, would we say, “That’s OK, there’s plenty of other people in the world?”

If someone was about to embezzle several thousand dollars from their employer, would we say, “That’s OK, she has plenty of money?”

If someone came to us and said that she had committed adultery, would we say, “That’s OK, everybody does it these days?”

So why would we say, “Same sex relations—sexual relations not friendships—are OK.  Everybody is OK with that these days.  It’s not really a sin anymore.”  Why would we make this the exception?

We share something with every other human on the planet.  We all fall short of the glory of God and Christ died for all of us.

So, if the law indeed points us to or leads us to salvation in Christ, why would we deceive others?  If the law shows us our brokenness and makes us receptive to the wonderful gift of grace, why would we tell others that their transgressions are no longer transgressions?  Are we empowered to say: “God wasn’t serious.”

Why would we try to lead people away from grace instead of speaking the truth in love and bringing them to this wonderful gift of God?

So that’s the reason why we shouldn’t tell people that homosexuality is no longer a sin; but how do we truly love our neighbor when we know they are sinning?  I think we already know.

Do we have neighbors who lust in their heart or cheat on their taxes?  Do we have neighbors who use the name of God in vain?  Do we have neighbors who neglect the tithe and greater offerings?  Do we have neighbors who covet our new boat or motorcycle?

I’m sure we do.  This is a covetous world.  It is a world that tells us it is all about you.  Why don’t we tell them that those things no longer displease God?  If we could do that then the preacher could just tell us fun stories and show cool videos.  He could preach to our itching ears.

Part of the problem in churches wanting to say that same-sex sex is OK now, is that many churches have gone to the other extreme.  Their main message is just how bad homosexuals are.  They have signs and rant against their conduct.  They want to make sure that everybody knows they are going to hell.

They feel an obligation to condemn sin.  When I see preachers that do nothing but fill their messages with the condemnation of sin and the judgment of sinners, I must wonder:  Did God not do a good enough job?  Were his decrees insufficient?  Why must some groups gather with signs telling homosexuals that they are going to hell.  The sign is not enough.  They must yell at those who pass near them.

Nothing quite says that God is love and he loved you so much that he gave his one and only Son to die for you like a Go to hell sign.  Do not pass go and do not collect $200.

The tendency of many churches is to swing the pendulum the other way and declare that same-sex sex is not a sin.  This is a natural human tendency.  But God’s law does not sway with our infidelity.  It is human nature to say, “that’s not really a sin anymore,” but it is not God’s nature.

God’s nature is mercy and forgiveness that we don’t deserve.  There is no need for either if we get to decide what misses the mark and what does not.

It’s like a marksman that hits the edge of the target, perhaps a deuce too high to mark for the marksmen among us.  By any standard, the shooter gets a 2 instead of a 10.  But if by his own desire and the consent of some others who really don’t like practicing, they declare that a hit anywhere on or near the entire target to be worth the same as hitting dead center, then there is no transgression.  Everyone hits the target and receives full credit whether they get close to the center or not.

So some churches seem to rail against the depravity of this one act and others have taken it to the highest court of public opinion and overturned God’s law.

So, what about us?  What about those who do not want to take matters into our own hands to vent our anger against a single transgression or retreat to the apathy and ambivalence of the world and just say whatever goes?  What about us who want to be a faithful disciple of our Lord, Jesus Christ?  What about those of us who want to be equipped for every good work?  What about us?

The Lord commissioned us to share good news.  Sin is not the end for usThe blood of Jesus took away our sin.  Now we should want to be holy as God is holy and we don’t have to worry that we are going to mess up something so badly that our get out of hell ticket will be voided.

God is faithful and just to forgive.  We who have professed Jesus as Lord are to confess.  He is faithful and just to forgive.

So, preacher, if a homosexual person comes to worship, what will you do?  Welcome him or her and preach good news.

So, if a homosexual couple—they might even be married—come to worship, what will you do?  Welcome them and preach the good news.

So, if two men or two women come to you to join them in holy matrimony, what will you do?  Direct them to a secular venue.  To join the two together is to participate in a commitment to go on sinning.  We don’t conscript people into Christ’s service.  If people choose to live in the world by the ways of the world, that is their choice.  I will speak the truth in love to them, and thus not subsidize their worldly choices by providing a godly blessing on an ungodly act.

We welcome people in whatever their state of brokenness they arrive.  The world would counter that these people are not broken.  That’s just the way that they are.

Some say, that’s just their nature.  If God made them that way, why would he make it against the rules to live that way?

My human nature is to live by an eye for an eye.  Actually, I would rather live by two eyes for and eye and throw in a couple broken bones on top of that if you wrong me.  But God calls me to live by love and forgive.  That’s not my human nature, but that carnal man has given way to the new creation that I became when professed Jesus is Lord!  I don’t always get it right the first time, but I am without excuse to just say, that’s my nature.

We preach good news about forgiveness of sin and life abundant and everlasting in Jesus Christ.  Everything that we do should bring them closer to God, to holiness, and to real life in Jesus Christ, and not to help anyone deny their sin by telling them that it’s not a sin any more.

So, how is this different from an alcoholic who wants to join the church?  I don’t help the alcoholic continue drinking to excess with the blessings of the church.  I don’t add legitimacy to sin.  He or she may relapse.  They may never fully recover.  With God they can but so many struggle to accept his way.  But the alcoholic or drug addict or divorced person or thief or even the murderer who comes to follow Christ will be welcomed.

To marry same sex couples is to participate in solemnizing a commitment to turn away from God and turn towards the world.  It’s like blessing reverse repentance.  It is to give legitimacy to sin.  That does not help anyone.  It is not kindness.  It is deceit.

We must not only speak the truth in love but live the truth in love.  We love without condition.  Sometimes that means speaking the truth in love that something acceptable to the world is a sin before God.  We must not condemn but must be ready to help those who want to turn away from sin and seek the one true God whom we know in Christ Jesus.

If we say that a sin is not a sin because the world accepts it, we help people remain in the world.  We subsidize their sinful state.  We become a willing partner in the deceit brought forth by the enemy.  We make it harder to receive the grace of God.  We become a stumbling block for those who need God’s grace. 

If we who follow Jesus as Lord speak the truth to the world, we will be declared to be a stranger and an outcast in this world.  Jesus tells us not to worry about that part.  We are keeping company with the prophets.

Unfortunately, we now face the same treatment within parts of the church that have conformed to the patterns of the world despite very direct counsel not to do so.  We do not belong to the world.  We belong to the Christ.  We lead people to the Christ.  The law helps us fulfill our commission.

Deceit is as old as the Garden of Eden, but is not our way, even if it makes things easier in this age.  What the world is selling as kindness—that homosexuality is not a sin—is deceit.  It is not kindness.  It is apathy and ambivalence and we should have none of it.

Our heart must be like God’s heart.  We desire none to perish.  We long for all to turn away from sin and receive the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

To do this, we must be ever so truthful.  We do not condemn. We love and love helps us take the good news to everyone because we all fall short of the glory of God.

We are the people of Whosoever Will not Whatsoever Goes.  Knowing that we fall short of the glory of God helps us realize how much we need the atonement that comes through Jesus and we have become people of hope.

Let’s not cheat anyone out of what we hold so dearly.  Let’s not get in the way by doing what the world expects.  Let the law do its work so all may come to know the glory of God through Christ Jesus.


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