As a follower of Christ I take sin very seriously. Let me augment that statement by saying that I first take my own sin very seriously. The sins of others - that which most Christians are so adept at pointing out - certainly are issues that concern me, but the whole plank in the eye thing keeps me fairly grounded on my need for personal confession and repentance on a daily basis. The heart of the gospel is Jesus' death, not just so that I can have a free ticket to heaven but so that I can be forgiven of my sins. So yeah, I call people to repentance when sharing the gospel while at the same calling myself to that same repentance daily.
So this morning I logged onto a website that I haven't viewed in a few weeks. It's a website for my favorite college sports team and it has a message board where fans can discuss various issues (and do some arguing) about their favorite sports teams and players. There is also a board on there where off-topic sports discussion are fair game, but I usually stay away from that hornet's nest. I noticed when I logged on this morning that I had a private message waiting for me in my in box. When I checked it out, I knew that I had to be very cautious in how I answered the question that I was being asked.
The question was from a friend that I know not only from the message board but I've personally met him and have seen him at events on several occasions. He's an awesome guy who loves the same team that I do and he was thoughtful enough to send us a gift when our youngest daughter was born. Although our relationship with each other isn't all that deep, I consider him a friend and would have no problem calling upon him if I had a need. Oh, and he's gay.
The question he asked me was this: What is your opinion about same-sex unions? I knew this question was coming eventually because he knows I'm a pastor and I know that he's gay and an advocate of gay marriage. But he said in the email that he valued my opinion on the matter and so I prayerfully considered what my answer should be.
I wrote to my friend that I didn't support same-sex unions and that my reasons were based upon my faith in Jesus Christ. I also let him know that areas such as pornography, adultery, child abuse, etc., were areas that I also didn't support for the same moral reasons. Yes, there are many Christians who like to isolate certain sins while ignoring others, but I'm not one of those. My goal is to operated in the mindset of the love of Jesus Christ. I reiterated to him that, even though we don't agree on certain issues, none of those things would keep me from being his friend.
What will his response be to me? I don't know. I thought that maybe I should wait for his answer before I wrote this blog but it honestly doesn't matter how he answers. I love my friend and more than anything I want him to come to faith in Jesus Christ. Do I want him to continue in a lifestyle that I believe God considers sinful? Of course not. But I can say the same thing about my own sinful lifestyle choices that I know offend God and need to be cleansed.
Jesus never avoided or condoned sin, yet He also never counseled someone to repent without offering His grace to go along with it. As Christians we often lack the grace that goes along with forgiveness and repentance. The issue is sin - not which specific sin we decide to isolate today - and sin is serious. Before we can expect anyone else to confess and repent of their sins which are holding them back from Jesus, we must be acutely aware of our sin so that we, too, can come before a holy God and lay our transgressions at the foot of the cross.
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