What if all Christians loved ALL people as much as they hate SOME sins? What if? I can tell you the answer… the world would be changed overnight.
In Indiana today (March 26, 2015) Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. It was a controversial bill and had groups all over the country up in arms over the implications it could mean for LGBT individuals specifically. The new law – as described by most opponents – will allow business owners to discriminate against anyone they wish solely based on their own religious convictions against homosexuality. Opponents say the new law allows, as an example, a restaurant owner in Indiana who does not want to serve gay couples can simply refuse service to them based on his or her own religious beliefs. Proponents on the other hand argue that it won’t be a law that allows discrimination but instead a law that simply preserves the rights of anyone to stay true to their own religious conviction. (Edit: I am not trying to tear this law apart or discredit it… I hear both sides and understand the reasons both are passionate about their positions … this merely awakened a question in me of “what do we, as Christians, spend too much time doing?” The answer as outlined below – is far too much of everything other than what Jesus called us to do.)
If a restaurant owner doesn’t want to serve a gay couple a plate of food – are they also going to refuse a divorcee? Or how about someone who is obese? Or what about someone who lies? Or has gotten a speeding ticket? Or has tattoos? Or says a cuss word? Or is too judgmental? Or will it suffice to just ban the “big sins?” My question to the “concerned Christian business owners of Indiana” is this… Is refusing a gay couple the happy hour special in your restaurant on Thursday night going to introduce them to Jesus? Or an often cited example of a florist who may not want to provide flowers for a gay wedding… if you refuse to let them buy flowers from you, is your refusal introducing them to Jesus? Because as a Christian, introducing others to Jesus is your only responsibility. I can’t find a single instance when Jesus instructed His followers to refuse to provide your help to someone based on their life choices… or to go defend your religion or picket for His cause or on His behalf or that He ever said, “be sure to point out and condemn every sin and don’t forget to reject sinners from your home, life, places of business and general vicinities.”
What if we quit worrying? You know… quit worrying that our acceptance of someone equals our condoning or championing of their lifestyle. What if we just focused on treating everyone with respect and dignity and loving them for who they are… and stopped hating them for who they are not? If you think that treating someone with dignity, respect and love is equal to you condoning their lifestyle or their sin – then lookout my friend because you have condoned enormous amounts of sin in every person you have ever known.
What if God asks you tomorrow if your last action on Earth was one of love or something other than love? How would you have to answer? Is he going to sit and listen to our excuses that sound like this: “But God… I had to teach so-and-so a lesson! I had to make sure they knew I didn’t condone of how they were living… etc etc”
What if instead of trying to prove to everyone we have moral high ground on the issues we feel strongly about we instead tried to prove to everyone we could out-do them in doing good? Can you imagine a world where the only competition was seeing who could do the most good for everyone else? Because I tell you what… If that was the world we lived in there wouldn’t have been a bunch of people 2,000 years ago who put Jesus on a cross over the fear of losing their religious positions of authority. (And they believed to their own last breaths that what they were doing was in the best interest of all because they knew they were morally superior.)
I keep hearing people say that our nation is weakening because of the sinful ways of our citizens. The truth is… we, The Church, have grown weak as followers of Jesus because too many care more about pointing to the sin of others than about caring for them as people… you know… like Jesus did. What if…?
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Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – Eastside is different.