Monday, February 25, 2013

Balancing Truth and Forgiveness

As a Christian in our modern politically correct world, we're constantly asked to put aside our beliefs and just "live and let live." Unfortunately, as Christians, we are also called the speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Sadly, too many of our fellow believers fail on one of these two requirements.

The more liberal amongst us fail to speak the truth. They fall prey to the liberal political correct mentality of not wanting to offend people so they instead believe the intellectually dishonest concept that "all faiths are different roads to the same God" or are equally valid etc.

This is logically impossible, because: 1. God either has a son or he doesn't, making it impossible for the God of Islam and the God of Christianity the same. 2. Jesus Christ is either the Messiah or he isn't, making it impossible for Judaism and Christianity to agree. 3. There's either one God or many, making all three of these religions not able to be the same as any polytheistic religion. 4. Jesus is either who He said he was: God, the Messiah, the fullness of the Godhead Bodily, one third of the Triune God; or he's either a liar and/or crazy person. Jesus being "just a good teacher" is not an option Christ himself gave us.

To use a Biblical comparison, the people who try to shoehorn their own Christian faith into these illogical compromises are the modern Sadducees, the sect that, in the time of Christ, was known for compromising their faith with Rome to get along.

Then there's the other extreme. The modern Pharisees.  These individuals are the ones who strictly adhere to the Biblical truth, but do so by screaming at people about how they're going to Hell and even calling things sin that aren't sin. (For example, you show me where in the Bible it says that Christians shouldn't drink alcohol in reasonable moderation?  If you think I'm wrong, go read John 2. Then explain to me why, at feasts, it would be practice for hosts to serve the best wine first and the inferior after people have well imbibed if it's just grape juice and not alcohol?) Believe it or not, as a Christian, these are the ones who bother me more.

The modern Sadducee tends to arrive at the conclusion that everyone is right in their beliefs out of a heart of love. They know someone of another faith that they care deeply about and do not want to believe they are unsaved. Rather than possibly ruin the friendship by evangelizing that person, they allow themselves to believe their friend is saved through Islam or Buddhism or whatever they believe.

How do we make that balance? How do we find ourselves between the Pharisee and Sadducee?

The balance is set out by Christ in the Gospel of John Chapter 8:2-11:

Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?”  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (Emphasis Added)

It is the sentence in bold that is the most pertinent. Jesus both forgave the woman caught in adultery AND laid out the expectation that she turn from her sin.  He both loved and forgave her, while loving her too much to let her stay in her sin. That's who Jesus Christ is...He loves us enough to forgive us and loves us too much to leave us in our sin.

In real life application, as Christians this means we must hate sin. The actual act of sin, both our own and others, should be detestable to us.Yet, as Christ demonstrated, we must also love the sinner, as Christ loves us. It is both possible and reasonable for us, with God's help, to separate these two. 

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