Shutting Up for the Sake of the Gospel.

I have opinions. I love my opinions. I mean, I have a blog and a Twitter account that I type my shinier thoughts into regularly. And while It’s possible that all this opinion-sharing has something to do with deep-seated narcissism or some neurotic cry for the world to notice me (Love me, world!) there are a few things that I try my best not to talk about. As full of myself as I obviously am, I do attempt a modicum of restraint on things I feel will unnecessarily drive people away from Jesus.
 
As a follower of Christ, it’s easy to lose perspective…

And, sometimes, it’s worth keeping it to yourself.

We have these varying beliefs about life, and the things we think are important.

That’s cool.

Some people are conservative and some people are liberal, some are vegetarians, others are unapologetic carnivores, some like chocolate chips, others like raisin oatmeal coo…

No, that’s too far, those particular people are probably not even saved… Raisins… Anyway, my point is: we’re an eclectic bunch with a variety of thoughts on various matters. (I mean, who thinks that’s an acceptable alternative to chocolate?) And variety among believers is totally acceptable. It’s part of what makes us unique parts of the same body. I’m not a cookie-cutter Christian kind of guy. (…They look so much like chocolate chips before you bite into them. It’s why I have trust issues!) But, despite your differing ideas, if you follow Jesus, you follow Jesus first and foremost.


PUTTING OUR RIGHTS IN OUR BACK POCKET

Before departing for Heaven, Jesus told his followers to go and “make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19, NASB) We’re all pretty familiar with that, and we may even be passing familiar with Paul saying, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22b).

We just don’t adhere to it.

Here, Paul is finding common ground with unbelievers, suppressing his rights so as not to put anything in the way of the Message of Hope. I don’t think that sits well with us sometimes.We well remember that we’re supposed to tell the world about Jesus, but we are real jackholes about it. And, as someone has said, the truth without love ceases to be the truth.

Jesus himself said that the greatest commandment, the one that he said sums up all of the Law and everything the Prophets said was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind,” (Mt 22:37, NLT) and that the second commandment was similar, in that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. So if love is the theme in being a Christian, sharing the Good News in  love always means that others souls are more important than us or our opinions.

THIS MIGHT BE HARD TO HEAR…

But we must stand firm, you say. We must speak the truth about sin to the lost! Pass legislation to ban gay marriage and strip clubs, and keep prayer in schools! What if none of those things are our business?

…I know a lot of you just made a scrunchy face and said, “What?” out loud, but if you believe something to the contrary, you—like me for many years—were living bad teaching. Stick with me here. It’s as simple as one verse in one chapter:

1 Corinthians 5. In this chapter, the writer is clearing up a miscommunication with the church in Corinth. He starts off by saying that he’d told them not to associate with immoral people. That’s where most of us stop. Apparently, so did the Corinthians. But he goes on to explain he didn’t mean all immoral people. We’d have to leave the planet if that were the case. He meant immoral Christians. Then, he says IT in verse 12. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders?” That’s God’s job, he says.
 
So, what’s our job, then?
 
He continues, “Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.” Do you feel a heavy something-or-other sliding off your shoulders?

I did.

I thought, “You mean, I don’t have to be the world’s mother? I don’t have to feel bad if I’m not stuffing morality down their throats?” I was flabbergasted, and then I realized something. I realized what my job is as a Christian—to love my neighbor as myself (Mk 12:31).

IT’S REALLY, REALLY GOOD NEWS

We spend a lot of time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole—attempting to get non-believers to act upon our religious ideas and personal morality when they don’t believe in God and so have no interest in our religious ideas or, perhaps, our idea of morality. It’s like trying to teach poodles how to fly. They have no desire to do so and grow angry at the person throwing them out the window. So, put down your cudgel and reach out to your abortionist neighbor. Offer a hot meal to that foul-mouthed young lady at the park. Hold the door open for the guy who thinks you’re a pushy, arrogant nut. He might be right. Show them Jesus, not your latest blog post against… all the things.
 
Here’s the thing, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, when God looks at Christians, he doesn’t see our sin—he sees the completely forgiven son or daughter that he loves. And the Bible is telling us to see the lost world in a very similar way. If it’s God’s job to judge them, then we don’t have to. We can look past their sins and see the human being for whom Christ died. We can befriend them without reservation and live out love in their lives with no strings attached and no judgment. Maybe we will earn the right to be heard. Maybe they’ll have ears to hear about the God who died for them.

Maybe they will never become Christians.

That’s sad, but that needs to be okay. Because that’s not your job either. Living for God, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and always being ready to give an answer for the Hope that you have. That’s your job. And they will ask.
 
So stop thinking of people in terms of their sin—that’s not cool—and see them as the humans made in God’s image that they are. Just love people, don’t debate them. The last thing we want to do is to drive people away from the Good News because of our political and social beliefs, no matter how right we feel those things are. It’s not our job to judge the lost. It’s our job to love them!

That’s freeing!

Winning an argument is never more important than a person’s immortal soul.

-Chad

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