Thursday, December 23, 2010

Then Neither Do I Condemn You

Christians have done a horrible job at presenting Jesus Christ to the world. Someone has said that God needs a new PR man and I tend to agree but still he has chosen us. So much of the unsaved world sees the Church and Jesus with a perspective that astounds me and then I remember that the enemy is there to twist everything that is said so it comes across void of any love and compassion. Still, most of us do a terrible job at representing the entire plan and many concentrate on people's actions instead of their heart. What is so important about what they do when what they do is a result of their heart? It is when we turn our heart over to God that we see actions changed, so our emphasis should not be their action but the understanding that Jesus wants their heart.

Everyone sins! Can we agree on this? It doesn't matter how we sin, that fact is that we all sin. The problem begins here for those who are lost to God. They do not want to acknowledge that what they do is sin because they want to do whatever they are doing. We have to start at the beginning with them, where God created everything to be perfect. It was us who introduced imperfection into God's perfect creation and because of it everyone of us has been born into that imperfection. So people without God who state that they were born that way, with those desires, with that way of thinking, unknowingly acknowledge the truth of man's depravity. But understand Christian, we were all born to it, everyone of us. We all sin because none of us are capable of living up to God's perfection but that is not God's fault. He did not create us this way. He created us with perfection and he has given everything to bring us back there.

This is the thing, and it is what Christmas represents, God has been working to bring us back to him from the moment we walked away from him. It is not true that he has chosen to discriminate against a group of people because of their actions, because of the way they were born. He is not showing a lack of love by sending people to hell. It is just the opposite. He told us from the beginning that losing our innocence would lead to our death. He warned us. Then we decided to disobey and each person now faces that spiritual death. However, our Father does not want to see one single person face that natural consequence to our decision. He has been working on a rescue plan; a plan that would give us another choice. Adam had a choice between good and evil and he chose evil so that we were all condemned by that choice with no hope of rescue. Jesus came to open the door to choice again, so that those who want the ability to choose can have it, but God will not force anyone to choose. He is desperate for us to make the right choice but it is up to us.

Now, the problem comes when we Christians get in there and start yelling at people that what they are doing is wrong and we represent God as such a negative God, making it look like he sends people to hell and takes great pleasure in it. People do have to be informed but what they need to be informed of is that without Jesus Christ they cannot be reconciled with God. Their actions are not the real problem, only the fruit or symptom of the deeper problem. We have all seen the dramatic change that happens to people when they encounter Jesus, so that is where we need to help bring people. We need to stop condemning people's actions. They could live a perfectly good life and not sin in any way that would cause a Christian to speak out and still be lost because they are without Jesus Christ. Read Jesus' words again:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." (John 3:16-18)

I am sure that you see it here; it is Jesus Christ who saves and it is deciding against Jesus that leads to condemnation but it is a self-condemnation. God is trying to rescue us like we might a drowning man. But if that man refuses to be rescued is that our fault? Did we kill hill him? Did it matter that he was lying or sexually immoral as he was drowning or was drowning enough to kill him? Now consider how our actions reveal the condition of our heart, our relationship with God:

"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21)

Of course those who have chosen to live in the darkness want to stay there but they don't even realize it is darkness. Of course they do not want to be told that what they are doing is sin, something that is contrary to the perfection of God. Of course they will hate us for coming against what they want to do, which is natural to the nature to which they were born. This is the big challenge that we Christians have, presenting the Light when people are quite happy to stay in the darkness. They do not see that they need rescuing and yelling at them for the evil they do is not going to make it any better.

It is far better for us to concentrate on the relationship with Jesus Christ, the love and wholeness that he offers. We need to represent him in our actions and words, being compassionate in every situation. We make the mistake of first presenting what God is against so that people see him as an "anti" God, ready to condemn us in an instant. We need to understand for ourselves that God is "anti" Christlessness which permits sin to continue. It is true that sin separates us from God but we are powerless to do anything about sin. Our nature lends itself to sin and we are actually enslaved to it. How can we condemn a slave for being a slave? We can't but making the decision to remain a slave when they are offered freedom is what condemns them. We need to concentrate on helping them see Jesus, the one who rescues us and sets us free. That is the hope that Christmas represents; our Father revealing his rescue plan to those who are lost and enslaved in the darkness. It is a great celebration of a great and loving Father.