Reblog: Just ‘love the sinner’. Period | Sojo.net

The real problem with “Love the sinner; hate the sin” is that hate comes so much more naturally to us. . .

And when you start hating sin, you’ll find it is oh so much easier to hate other people’s sin — i.e., sins toward which you have no particular inclination — than your own. Which makes you no less sinful than those you judge, but a lot more hypocritical.

I say let’s focus on just trying to “love the sinner” for a while. When and if we get that down — if we learn to truly love sinners as Jesus did — then maybe we can talk about hating their sins.

Read the whole post here.

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A relentless love

But the great thing to remember is, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.

Mere Christianity, CS Lewis

Reblog: The Mystery of Original Sin | Christianity Today

God is not a boundary around the edges of our lives, a limit to our abilities that we are always striving to surpass. Nor, we might add, is he the keeper of a boundary imposed by legalists who think we can be changed through an ever more encompassing set of rules. He belongs in the center. Were God merely an outer boundary, we would be left with an inner boundlessness, an emptiness at the heart of things—left, that is, without any true organizing center for our lives. It is only when our relationship of glad obedience to God governs everything that we will be truly free. Then we will find no need for a boundary at all. The more we find ourselves needing to shore up boundaries, or feeling driven to escape them, the surer we may be that something is wrong at the center.

The whole article is worth a read: The Mystery of Original Sin | Christianity Today.

I’m glad I came across this article. Lately I’ve found myself scrabbling for ‘balance’. This is something I revert to whenever my faith is in crisis; when I realise I’m wandering but am in denial about it. I try to find a ‘balance’ between my faith life and my life life, often unconsciously (but often consciously, too). I try to set ‘boundaries’ for my faith: finish the Christian to-do list (Scripture, devotion time, prayer), so I can have the rest of the day “off God”. As if that’s possible, or real faith.

And then the Holy Spirit chipped in and told me (outside a municipal office, of all places), ‘It’s not about balance, it’s about infusion.’ We compartmentalize faith: it’s just one box of many (‘marriage’, ‘kids’, ‘school’, ‘work’, ‘friends’). But in reality, of course, it’s not a box, it’s the storage space. Everything else should fit into it.

This reminds me of something I read in Mere Christianity:

The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see…

What simple, profound principle has the Holy Spirit been leading you back to?

Grace: one size fits all

Someecards

Do you think it’s sometimes easier to be merciful towards the ‘big’ sinners–murderers, thieves,  rapists, and so on? This morning I was disparaging about a family member whose husband is ill. Her requests for prayers and support are more about her than him, and I wasn’t feeling very sympathetic, much less inclined to pray for her.

Later I read an article about a man who raped a six-month old baby to death. Through the disgust I found myself thinking something along the lines of, well, everyone deserves grace–even him. I was more gracious about this guy’s crime than my aunt’s relatively harmless (and even understandable) narcissism.

Have you ever experienced anything similar? It made me feel like a prat and I wondered if we have the reverse situation going now than in Jesus’ time: where we are more likely to forgive or help strangers, these ‘others’, than we are the people in our own backyards over weekends, on our Facebook timelines, in our living rooms.

Maybe it’s because for most of, these ‘others’ are on the periphery of our lives: they live in news bulletins or in ghettos or in quiet whispers about ‘someone who knows someone who knows’. They don’t buy us birthday presents or spam our e-mail accounts with chain letters. We can afford to be gracious because doing so does not fundamentally alter our lives.

But extending grace at home, at work, in shopping malls, at birthday dinners, to the people we see every day–that’s not always so easy. We tend to grade sins, and unfortunately our magnanimity about those who commit them sometimes grows in relation to how big we think the transgressions are. The ‘smaller’ sins slip through the cracks of daily life, into that shady area of ‘habit’.

But all grace is radical, and everyone, regardless of who they are, what they are, whether those parameters fall within or outside our families, communities or comfort zones, deserves grace. Even slightly histrionic aunts :).

All grace is grace.

Reblog: The Gospel Is Not a Behavior Control Program | RELEVANT Magazine

My suspicion is that, if we’re unflinchingly honest, we are often more concerned about behavior modification than we are about individuals encountering the presence of a loving God.

via The Gospel Is Not a Behavior Control Program | RELEVANT Magazine.

Good Christians

Door

I think we sometimes forget that we’re sinners.

I mean we know we’re sinners, but do we really know we’re sinners?

I think we forget that we live in a broken world, and that we, too, are broken.

It’s hard to remember how transient and messed up this place is when our bills are paid, our churches tithed, our dishes clean, our taxes sorted.

It’s hard to understand how much fixing we need when we don’t think anything is broken anymore.

And after a while we maybe start thinking that we’re not.

After a while we don’t rely on grace so much. It’s not really a thought or a decision; it’s just how things are, how things are going.

Spiritual apathy is very gentle.

It doesn’t demand anything. The absolute opposite, actually.

It doesn’t ask niggling questions about your life.

It doesn’t make you feel like maybe something isn’t right.

It doesn’t say that having all your ducks in a row perhaps doesn’t constitute a good, Godly life.

It demands neither answers nor change.

Spiritual apathy just lets you be.

That is why it’s so dangerous.

Much more dangerous than raging at God.

Much more dangerous than hating him.

Much more dangerous than wondering if he even exists, or cares.

Much more dangerous than any number of sins.

Because as soon as you start to think you don’t need God…you start to think that you don’t need God.

You can not need God even when you pray an hour every day.

You can not need God even when you and your family faithfully take up a full pew in the church.

You can not need God when you’re serving the homeless, preaching from the pulpit, studying theology, heading up the fundraising committee.

Sometimes good Christians are so good they don’t need God.

So maybe it’s time to start being bad Christians again.

Broken people full of doubt and fear and anger and disappointment and mistakes and sin. Broken people honest about their doubts and fears and anger and mistakes and sins.

We are that anyway. We only think we’re not.

Maybe it’s time we let the light shine through our brokenness rather than trying to be the light ourselves.

Being good Christians isn’t the point. Needing God is.

He came for the sick.

He came for the broken-hearted.

He came for us.

Let’s not be so good that we forget that he is better. 

Knots

Some rabbis say that, at birth, we are each tied to God with a string, and that every time we sin, the string breaks. To those who repent of their sins, especially in the days of Rosh Hashanah, God sends the angel Gabriel to make knots in the string, so that the humble and contrite are once again tied to God. Because each one of us fails, because we all lose our way on the path to righteousness from time to time, our strings are full of knots. But, the rabbis like to say, a string with many knots is shorter than one without knots. So the person with many sins but a humble heart is closer to God.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.

Sin

Sin is its own punishment.

Reblog: Are you a judgmental Christian? « WisdomForLife

While Jesus is clearly forbidding some kind of judging, he’s also advocating a need for judgments. Jesus is not excusing us from all moral judgments.

via Are you a judgmental Christian? « WisdomForLife.

Gossip and the rest of us (updated)

Who else is stumped by the concept of ‘gossip’? Most of our conversations are about the activities of ourselves, our families, our friends or mutual acquaintances. So is all of that sin?

I’ve thought about this (I had some free time). I think gossip can be defined as:

*Lying. The ‘thou shalt not’. Rumours and hearsay (where you take the word of someone who took someone else’s word) and communicate it, with or without specifying that it could all be lies.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16 ESV)

*Glorifying in someone else’s bad circumstances. The Germans call this baby ‘schadenfreude’. Gossip isn’t just about truthfulness. It is often rooted in envy, which has its whole own commandment:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17 ESV)

*Hypocrisy. Discussing someone’s affairs under the pretence of something else (like ‘caring’). Jesus hated hypocrisy, and for good reason: we are not immune to our own hypocrisy. If left to it long enough, we begin to believe our saintly projections, oblivious to our inner gangrene. This is also known as ‘the broad path’. It takes a sharp turn down Shit Creek (yes, I used a bad word).

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 6:1 ESV)

*Judgment. Judging what someone else said or did. Whether they ‘deserve’ to be judged is irrelevant:

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:37-38 ESV)

When in doubt…it’s probably gossip. If it’s more complicated than that: Matthew 5, or 1 Corinthians 13. Use Christ and the Word as the exegesis for your thoughts and actions.