I write mainly for readers who share with me a profound and common interest in and commitment to the God who revealed Himself in and as Jesus of Nazareth—the now resurrected and exalted Lord of All. I write for readers who believe in the Holy Spirit who makes Himself present (peculiarly) in the Church of God by His living Word in the Holy Scriptures. This living Word is living and powerful precisely because it is the Word of the living Spirit of God—it is never dead! Like its holy source, the Holy Spirit, it can be resisted, quenched and rejected because the “power” the Spirit of God brings to bear on the hearts and minds of people and in their societies is not coercive. It is God’s power to save but it is a drawing and shaping power (Acts 20:32; Romans 1:16; John 12:32 and elsewhere).
We’re aware of our flaws though we accept the fact that we don’t know or see them as our God and Savior can and does. Still, however flawed we are in practice or vision we can’t subscribe to the views of someone like J. Selby Spong who can take or leave the existence of God and still speak as one who is a Christian.
I can’t embrace the view of a congregation of people who are committed to Jesus as Lord but that in His name calls no one to repentance. When I hear people being invited to dialogue with Christians that assure them, “We’re not asking you to change your mind about your homosexual stance or relationships” I immediately ask, “Yes, but is God asking them to change their minds (repent)?”
Romans 1:18-32 is a long list of markers that the human family has suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness and that God them gave them up to those various chosen evils that included foolishness and homosexuality in its various forms.
[It’s interesting that Paul is said to be wrong about homosexuality but is right when he condemns the rest of the list he spells out.]
And look at 1:32. These words have as much to say to universities, educational institutions as to individuals. “…who knowing the righteous judgment of God…approve of those who practice them.”
He immediately follows that long (but not exhaustive list) with a fearful warning that to choose to reject a change of mind (repentance) is to choose to reject God and His goodness and store up for oneself a coming wrath (Romans 2:1-4). Not to call me to repentance when it’s clear that I’m consciously choosing to reject His goodness is not kindness or friendship within the Christian narrative. To tell me it’s my God-given right to do as I please is to speak peace to me where there is no peace.
Still, how could we not be in favor of friendly dialogue with sinners when we ourselves are sinners? How could I not believe that God is calling other struggling sinners back to Himself when He calls me to Him as I seek a nearer likeness to Jesus Christ? His goodness to me and to everyone who seeks His presence and peace is expressed in the gift of His drawing us to repentance (Romans 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; 1 Peter 1:2; 2:24).
This is no plea for Christians to keep sinners like ourselves at arm’s length with a “holier than thou” attitude or speech (Isaiah 65:5). We’ve done enough of that! Should we invite sinners who choose to reject God’s goodness to eat with us or to keep company with us if they choose to or to gather with us when we assemble to glorify Him? Dear God, yes!
But to tell them their conscious choosing to live their lives contrary to the good God who offers them a “change of mind”—to tell them that it is not sin to be repented of but rather a right for them to enjoy and for which they need to apologize to no one, not even to God? That is loving them with the love of the Lord? To tell people “We aren’t asking you to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20); you need no such thing”? This is the love of God speaking through us?
To make a friend of sinners is like Jesus Christ! To make a friend of a “world” and a “world spirit” that first seduces and blinds, then shames and degrades and corrupts us and through us spreads corruption that is to make an enemy of God (James 4:4; 1 Tim 1:8-11) who loves those we smile at and say, “We’re not asking you to change.”
How seductive the Tempter is and how sweet and cozy is our feeling that we’re tolerant and friendly and Christlike. But there is no kindness so merciless as that which extends the hand of friendship to a slithering parasite that’s devouring those we care about. The patient and loving Son of God turned to His critics when they slated Him for caring for the noted sinners and He said, “They’re ill and I’m their doctor.” They hung Him for many things but they hung Him for making friends of sinners and even while he choked to death He said, “Father they need forgiveness. Forgive them they don’t know what they’re doing!”
Sinners like us who are “in the know” need to tell them.
There are many young people on the edge of an abyss. Don’t tell them it’s their God-given right to jump.
And there are those who are struggling with what they’re mortally afraid of and need a doctor like the Savior and friends standing by to assist Him. Don’t tell them everything is all right!
The Satan, said Paul, can transform himself into a minister of light.
(Holy Father, help us who wish to please you by being instruments of your blessing to the human family that you so love that you sent the Lord Jesus that we might have life in and through Him. Save us that we might not be carried away by every wind of cultural and societal change for we too are attacked by invisible rulers of the darkness of this “world” and hosts of wickedness in the unseen realms. Do continue in your faithfulness to keep us from trusting our emotions when they would carry us to places and thoughts you have protected us from. Convince us that your salvation is more than forgiveness but that it includes your patient work of deliverance from ALL that is unlike the Lord Jesus and that we might be included, more and more, among the number of whom it is said, “And such were some of you but you but you were washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Do come to our aid that as your People we will trust your saving Word in the Lord Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever, rather than our ever-changing feelings. Do help us to be faithful as servants of your Saving Truth that liberates. Do it for us your sinful children and do it for those too with whom we live and to whom we speak for if they do not hear it from us who will tell them of the full, final, glorious and joyful LIFE you offer? This prayer in Jesus Christ.)