Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Colonnade and shops in Bath, England

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Regarding Last Week's Sermon - Religion and Politics

Seems Scott's message on religion and politics was challenging to a few folks last week! Praise God! Folks are listening! Praise God, some of them are willing to speak up.

I received one note from an "anonymous" writer and, while it is my personal policy and that of the Elder Board at WBF not to respond to anonymous letters, this one was well written and constructive in its' tenor and, I thought, deserved to be addressed for the sake of others who may have the same questions.

Since the email address included in the letter has an error in it, I have posted my response below:

"Pink",

As a rule, I and the Elders do not respond to anonymous letters. As yours seem to be sincere in looking for answers and making constructive comments, I am making an exception.

I loved reading you letter. I really was blessed by the way I could see the Holy Spirit working in you even as you wrote.

You're conclusion was absolutely right, we are to love the lost because God first loved us when we were lost. Take a look at John 4 for some good guidelines for all this.

One of the great principles of the Bible is that God loves the sinner (each of us) but despises the (our) sin. As far as 'acceptance' goes, that may be a different story. I don't think Scott meant for us to embrace homosexuals, atheists, abortionists, etc and accept their behavior.

Clearly, we are to love these people (as we have been learning in 1 Cor 13, which applies to ALL people, not just other brothers and sisters in the Lord). Just as clearly, we are to detest sin and its' consequences and impact on our lives.

Therein lies the great Christian dilemma; how do we love the unlovable yet reject their sinful ways? Fortunately, as we have been struggling through 1 Cor 13, we have seen that we can only do this by allowing the love of God to flow through us while we strive as hard as we can to be obedient to Him and to turn away from our own sinful practices.

Scott's rightful approach to this dilemma, as he stated last Sunday, was to love others (all others) as we have been loved and to make sharing the gospel our highest priority, above all other activities including political and social activism.

This doesn't mean we are not to be politically active. But it does mean that when we choose to become politically or socially active, we do so in a loving and godly way using the Scriptures as a guideline for our behavior. Jesus sat with sinners. The Pharisees judged and condemned Him for it repeatedly. Ultimately, He told them, in so many words, "I came here because they are sick and need me. They're the ones who need Me the most!" (Mark 2:17, read the first 16 verses as well. As a matter of fact the whole chapter puts things into perspective).

To answer your question as to whether or not we sould associate with sinners, "No, we are not to avoid the sinners. they need to hear and see Who Christ is. We're His agents in the world and our job is to take His good news to those who need to hear it the most." So, we embrace them...love them... but, we are to avoid their behavior.

The gist of Scott's message is that we should never forsake the gospel for our own political or social agenda and that in pursuing either, we should always reflect the character and nature of Christ (1 Cor 13 1-7) and the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

Needless to say, we are not all called to minister on an ongoing basis to sinners only. We should approach these relationships only after much prayer and only with familiarity of the Scriptures less we fall into sin ourselves.

How does this play out in the life of our church? While we at WBF would welcome an abortionist, an atheist, a homosexual or any other sinner with open arms, we would not tolerate ongoing and unrepentant behavior along those lines. We would expect that the solid teaching of the Scriptures and the clear presentation of the gospel would lead to the heart transformation Scott spoke of and, ultimately, to repentance from those actions. Without this type of 'fruit' in their lives, we would not be able to continue in fellowship with them (Matt 18).

Overall, this is the type of political action Scott was endorsing. The kind that brings people into the kingdom rather than divides them over issues of partisan politics. If we concentrate on bringing people into the kingdom of God and teaching them what the Scriptures say about the issues, the issues will resolve themselves far better than any lobbying group, proposed legislation, protest or political action can resolve them.

I will be sharing on some of this Sunday morning. I deeply appreciate your willingness to speak up. this is how we learn and grow together. Thanks and please, come introduce yourself to me. I don't take your note as a complaint at all, I read it as an opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better.

Thanks for your input.

jk

1 comment:

  1. What an absolutely beautiful response, John. The people at WBF are very blessed indeed to have you as their shepherd.

    ReplyDelete