Be Careful, Church
Be careful, church, lest we forget who we are, who we were, and who our God is.
It seems with every tragedy, political pivot, or cultural gasp, we as the church are quick to weigh in and quick to act. Much of this has been positive in light of the most recent devastating attack that brutally murdered around 50 of our LGBT neighbors in Orlando, injuring many more physically and emotionally, at the hands of an Islamic extremist.
Many voices are quick to support, mourn, and love. Sadly, many are just as quick to use the events to raise a battle cry against Muslims, homosexuals, liberals, conservatives and everything in between.
But be careful church. Remember who we were.
“Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
None of us has a single boast in our salvation. We are not a part of the body of Christ because we figured out the right politics or fell in line with sexual mores. We are all chasing idols – false gods – including the sexual deviations our society embraces apart from the intervening work of God in Christ by the Spirit. When we speak out as the church, we do so as former (and struggling) thieves, drunkards, sexually immoral people who have been shown something greater – the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are given no higher standing above our neighbor because of this. Rather we are spiritually blind people who have been given sight. We are beggars who have been given bread in order to show others where to find it. This does not give us license to kick the currently blind or become haughty with our gift of vision and a full stomach. We have a different calling.
Be careful church. Remember who we are.
We are given a light not just so we can walk in light, but that we may take it to the darkness – to people soaked in the very same sins we ourselves are being saved out of. We must mourn as we see another expression of a lost world. As sin raises its ugly head, we must be alongside the injured and protecting those in its wake.
Paul, in thinking upon his salvation out of servitude to religion, does not ridicule those still unaware of the truth. He does not look at those clothed in sin and scoff at how wrong they are.
“For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3).
Do you wish that you yourself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of the swindler? Would you lay down your own salvation so that the active LGBT community could know the surpassing grace of Christ? Do you who once followed a different religion (Islam, Judaism, Atheism, Word of Faith) weep over those still deceived to the extent of despairing of your own eternal life?
We were no different. We are no different. Apart from Christ, we are all just chasing wind.
Be careful church. Remember who God is.
God is the one who sent the Son to save sinners. God is the one who was reviled by the religious elite for his friendship with the prostitute, the rich thief, and the societally filthy. God is the one who cried alongside a mourning community – enraged at the effects of sin – though he knew the greater outcome. God is the one who got his hands dirty and reached down through the stench of this world to save you if indeed you are in Christ. This is our God and he is still at work.
Church, if we cannot have compassion on the lost and love for our neighbor, we should seriously question whether we know and have experienced the compassion of Christ and the love of the Savior.
If we as the church cannot be the first to love the sexually immoral, the idolaters, the adulterers, the men who practice homosexuality, the thieves, the greedy, the drunkards, revilers, and swindlers, then we do not understand our mission as the church, nor our standing apart from Christ, nor our unmerited salvation in Christ.
We do not understand that the church is made up of such as these – such as us.
We are to be a light to the world. Dare we use that light to burn others?
Be careful church. Remember who we were. Remember who we are. Remember who God is.