Thursday, April 10, 2014

But You're Still a Sinner...

Untruth Number 2:
Hate the sin, love the sinner.

This one is a bit tougher to make my case because at its very core, this is completely scriptural. The problem is that we, as the church, screw it up. We want God to love us, sinners, despite our many failings and abominations. We want God to say, "I cannot love what you are doing, it is detestable in my eyes BUT I still love you, fully and completely." If God says that to us, we should be able to say the same thing to others. But we can't.

By living out this mantra, we put conditions on our love for others. We are not capable of fully loving someone as long as we label them "sinner." Now, before you get your feathers ruffled and say, "I am a sinner too" and you are a sinner and we are all God's children, etc. etc., consider this, if my pet sin was gossip and my best friend's pet sin were pornography, and you knew about both, would you treat us the same? Most people would give me a pass and would treat my friend as "hate the sin, love the sinner." They would keep reminding him over and over that he is a sinner. Make sure he wears that label like a scarlet "A" until he changes (and usually expect him to change on his own).

My point is this, if we live by that code, we put a barrier between us and the other person. We remind them over and over that they are a sinner. We treat them differently. We attach a label to them. It is very difficult for our brains to fully love someone that we have labeled. How about instead of "hate the sin, love the sinner" we just simply go with "love." We are ALL sinners. ALL of our sins are detestable, whether our sin is gossip, pornography, rage, alcoholism, homosexuality, fornication, lying, stealing, murdering or worshipping an idol. All are the same. I know, for a fact, that anyone I talk to is a sinner. So drop that part of the phrase and just say "love." For clarity sake, I'm also not saying we should embrace sin and forget the part about hating sin. We absolutely should hate sin. BUT we should start with hating our OWN sin. If we love others and hate our own sin, then we barely start to earn the right to help others with their sins.

Its ok to rebuke sin. Its ok to help others recognize their sin. Its ok to hate the sin. BUT you have to start with love. Before you ever start calling them out. Before you ever want to "help someone recognize," you have to start with love--and it is love without labels. Love without reminding them of their failings. I will end with some scripture to feed this thought. Jesus loved first, corrected second (most of the time). Check out this scripture and see what I mean:

John 8: 2-11
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

He loved her first. He saved her life. He forgave her completely. Only after all that did he rebuke her. And he even did that very gently.  We are not called to remind people constantly of the sin in their lives--that's Jesus' job. He is the mirror we all look into and see how filthy and corrupt we are. We are called to love others and help others and show the love of Christ. We are called simply to love without labels. 

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