Monday, June 21, 2010

Dealing with Public Sins

I recently watched a movie called “Hardball” about a guy in Chicago who agrees to coach a little league baseball team for money to pay a gambling debt. The team and league he coaches is in the ghetto of Chicago and because the movie is true to the setting with the language and violence I wouldn’t exactly call it a family movie. And I wasn’t crazy that the main character got out of his gambling debt with one last big gambling win. Gambling is never the answer to get out of gambling. However, in one of the practice scenes he is hitting infield/outfield to the team and one of the players is heckling other players every time they make a mistake. So the coach hits a line-drive at this kid who hits the deck getting out of the way of it. Then the coach says something to the effect of; “He just ducked away from that ball like a sissy and none of you guys have anything to say after the way he laughed at you? From now on, no one says anything negative to another player on this team!” This kid was publicly mocking others and was dealt with in a public manner. He never mocked another teammate I can tell you that!

When it comes to dealing with public sin we can learn a lesson from this story, to a degree. By public sin I mean someone who is living a sinful lifestyle for all the world to see and telling the world that what they are doing is okay. Of course I am talking about those who claim to be followers of Christ but defiantly live in sin justifying it. I am also talking about any sin that is put on public display and touted as the norm and no longer a sin. How do we properly respond to that?

Well with the individual you can try to deal with it privately. Calling them aside and reminding them that what they are doing is in fact not okay with the Scripture or Lord they claim to be a follower of. It they confess, repent, and ask God forgiveness then great, what a victory for the Kingdom! If not and they continue to make a public spectacle of their sin(s) then they must be confronted publicly. Why? Because they are taking this thing public and telling others its okay when its not, and those watching them claim to be okay need to see the truth. Now you need to make sure that if God is calling you to address this publicly that you have your own house in order so no one can accuse you of the whole, speck in your brother’s eye with a plank in your own thing. You must be willing to and have addressed your own shortcomings first.

A recent example of this is a Christian musician who came out of the closet about being a gay and having had a partner for several years. It’s one thing to admit a lifestyle choice but they are trying to promote it as okay with Scripture. They raise the point as to why homosexuality is the one sin the church seems to be harping on. “What separates that sin out from the fact that I am angry or mad at someone?” “Why is that so grievous to you that we have to sit here and have this conversation?” I would answer that and say this sin is being separated out by the homosexual community, not the Church. The homosexual community is trying to convince others that this is no longer a sin, but it is. It always has been and always will be. No one is trying to force the Church to accept angry violence as not a sin. But someone is trying to force this issue, and sadly, some churches have given in on the issue and no longer call it sin. Homosexuality is the example used here, but the message applies to any sin being lived and justified publicly.

The point here is not to publicly humiliate the sinner. But when the sinner takes the discussion onto the public stage it has to be refuted there. We can’t let them lead others astray without sharing the truth. The passage where Jesus says, “He who is without sin cast the first stone,” (Matt. 8:1-11) is their favorite to throw at Christians. But, He was talking about physical punishment on this woman who was caught in adultery. He wasn’t talking to people who were just calling adultery sin; they wanted to kill this woman! He simply reminded them that if she deserved death, so did everyone of them. He never disputed what she was doing was a sin. As a-matter-of-fact, He Himself called it sin when He said, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t stop them from calling it sin, He stopped them from condemning her; there is a difference.

So the point isn’t to condemn the sinner, but to lovingly call sin what it is and then try to lead the sinner into asking forgiveness, and repenting. But remember, you are only responsible for the stand you take, not the response they make; and to say nothing is to quietly condone it and condoning it is the least loving thing of all to do to a sinner.

Talk to me,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hope He Sees a Wasteland

Have you ever seen a movie where the hero or heroine stands atop some tall structure, I mean really tall and as they look around they see a vast wasteland? If you have, great; if not, maybe I’m just dreaming and if I am then Hollywood needs to pay me for the rights to make my dreams into a movie! That would make a great scene for a movie. Of course there is one minor problem with my ever being a movie writer, most movies seem to have more than one scene! They’re kinda hung-up on that detail.

What if Satan were to one day climb to the top of the tallest building in your town and look around? What would he see? I hope he would see a vast wasteland! Wouldn’t it be cool if someday he looked out over your town and saw a ginormous hole in his kingdom? Because to Satan all that is beautiful, full of life, and righteous is disgusting and offensive. People and places that are restored to a right relationship with God repulse him. True joy, happiness, love, and fulfillment of life are vile things in his eyes which see life and God through distorted and angry lenses. To Satan beauty is death, self-destruction, unhappiness, rebellion, enslavement to unhealthy “freedoms”, and lies that entrap people in sin that keeps them from a relationship with the righteous God. Some say Satan doesn’t love you. I say he loves you; he loves you to be unhappy, restless, hurting, struggling, dieing, fooled, and separated from God and the eternal benefits that come with having a relationship with the Almighty.

Maybe when you saw my comment about what I hope he sees you let-out a (high-pitched and drawn out), “Whaaat?!” But now that you understand how he sees, what do you think? Or how about if God were to look out over your County, what would you hope He sees? The same thing we hope Satan sees! Beauty, love, happiness, people who know Him and are known by Him, people treating themselves and each other like the priceless treasures that God thinks we are. People helping and loving people and introducing people to Him that don’t know Him yet. People who aren’t perfect battling sin because they haven’t been fooled into accepting it because, “That’s just who they are.” People loving enough to tell the truth about sin, but loving too much to judge and not help.

There are only two kingdoms in this world; Satan’s & God’s. We are all a citizen of one, and only one of them. The question is which one are you a citizen of? But there are also a couple of other questions; Which one do you live in? and Which one are you fighting for? See there is no middle ground here. Pretty much we live in Satan’s but if we are a citizen of God’s then we should be fighting for His. Remember being in this world but not of it? Not being of it goes beyond just not participating in the debauchery of the world it also involves fighting for God’s Kingdom. Matthew 11:12 clearly states that the Kingdom is methodically advancing, but what is not so clear is the rest of that verse, “the violent take it by force,”(KJV) “forceful men lay hold of it,”(NIV) or “violent people are attacking it.”(NLT) Either it means that people are trying to force their way in on their own merits; people are trying to forcefully stop the Kingdom from advancing; or there are people who are moving it along. Or it could be all three. I believe all three are happening. The Kingdom is advancing but with people trying to force their way in on their own merit thereby changing the requirements for citizenship, and with people trying to stop it with force; it is obvious that we need those who are citizens of it to be pushing it along or it will be going backwards. So now the question is are you one of those that are helping it to advance or one that is trying to stall or shrink it? You are either actively engaged in the battle to advance one of the kingdoms or you are a covert operative for the other one, you can’t be Holland here.

So, back to the original question, “Have you ever seen a movie…” Just kidding. The real question, “What do you hope Satan sees as he stands on the tower and looks around your town & county? If you want him to see a wasteland the next question is, “What are you doing to make sure that happens?”

Talk to me,