Sammy Rhodes wrote what he calls an "attempted apology" to the LGBTQ community in the wake of the Orlando shooting and a convicting tweet from author and lesbian Támara Lunardo, who said: "Straight friends, especially you Christians, please know: We hear your silence so loud."
Later in the post he writes: "Please forgive us for condemning your sexual choices loudly, while we quietly looked at porn, masturbated with lust in our eyes and hearts, cheated, got divorced, and just generally fell short of anything like sexual integrity. Please forgive us for loving our theology more than we’ve loved you."
And on one hand, he's right of course. We can become accidental pharisees who condemn sin loudly, while we hide the hypocrisy away. We can appear to condemn the outside world by pointing out the way they sin differently than we do. And instead of giving away love like we're made of the stuff, we bring out the law , clobber and condemn. We don't bring out grace and truth like Jesus did.
GRACE AND TRUTH.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17 ESV)
Now then, I don't want to take away from the apology, but I do feel it was missing an important aspect. It was the "not sorry" part I'm about to get to.
Sammy did well with showing grace and repentance, but I want to add the truth part. Not because I'm some legalist, but because it's the truth part that displays a deeper, more courageous kind of love. It's not so hard to spit out an "I'm sorry," but it's harder to couple it with the truth aspect because that is what hurts. But it is also what can lead to salvation.
While I'm sorry for the silence and hypocrisy in the church, what I'm more sorry about is that we don’t go far enough with the confrontation of sin. Here's what I mean: I'm sorry when it appears we focus on what we’ll call the “fruit of sin" and ignore the real heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter is that inside us all is a heart that doesn’t want Jesus in it, him calling the shots in our life in how we live and move and have our being.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER.
Tim Keller says that each of us has a power problem. He says we interpret the world around us in light of what we think our ultimate authority is. For non-Christians, the authority is the individual. “You do you” describes how most in America approach religion and spirituality and differing opinions in general. Elsewhere Keller writes, "Our late modern culture is marked by what Robert Bellah called expressive individualism — the belief that identity comes through self-expression, through discovering one’s most authentic desires and being free to be one’s authentic self. This powerful belief has weakened all institutions in society, not only the church, because it insists that no external authority has any right to tell the individual what is right and wrong or how to live.
For Christians, all authority is given to Jesus. And even though we don’t always represent Jesus well, nor follow His commands flawlessly, we have concluded that He is in charge of our life. He has the final say. He has given us a new identity in Christ. We are a people - or should be a people - quick to bend the knee to his authority because of the grace He has shown us.
The heart of the matter is that we have a heart that is much more profoundly sinful than we know…and most of the world refuses to acknowledge this to the degree the Bible does. We have a heart that is more anti-God that we realize. We don’t want to bend our will to His. We don’t to be ruled by Him but want instead to do as we each individually please. And so the Bible says we are all considered dead in our sins. The Bible wants to give you a hard dose of reality, but also doesn’t want to leave you without hope.
GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL
What Christians should really want is for non-Christians to see the good and bad news of the Gospel. You might sin differently than I do, but we're both judged as dead and damned in the eyes of God.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)
BAD NEWS: you’re much worse than you think you are. Your sexuality and the many myriad of ways you fall short only scratch the surface of how bad things really are inside you. And the fact that you might not even recognize this makes your situation grave. And the Bible lovingly warns that if you die not recognizing this, putting your faith in Jesus, you will experience hell forever.
GOOD NEWS: the solution, the only hope is in the salvation Jesus brings. God so loved the world that he sent Jesus to die for our sins and so we can know real everlasting happiness with Him. It is incredibly good news, because the pessimism the Bible has of sinners reveals an incredible optimism for those who follow Jesus. When you lose all hope in yourself you can see the grace and hope found in Jesus.
Many Christians realize that non-Christians these days think that loving them must include accepting and affirming all their lifestyle choices too. We are considered haters and much worse if we spotlight what the Bible speaks out against. And all I’m trying to get at here is that I think we need to go farther in the confrontation, focusing more on the heart dynamics at play. We need to recognize this is a power issue and instead of merely spotlighting the sins of the world, we should push through to opportunities to share the message of the gospel - both the good and bad news of the gospel.
Our tune shouldn’t merely be: you’re disobeying God’s law, repent or else die. It should be: I actually think you are much worse than you ever imagined (I know I am) but yet you are still one who Jesus died for and loves. Grace together with the truth.
NEVER BE PRETTIER THAN YOU ARE.
Matt Chandler teaches us how to do this.
I was writing this little post up over the course of a week and ended up listening to a message Chandler gave. He was talking about how to step into the space of evangelism as an act of Christian courage. He gives a scenario:
"Hey, man, I need to apologize to you."
"Yeah, will you forgive me?"
"Okay, we'll take the hypocrisy one first. I think I have lived in such a way as to make you really doubt or question the goodness and beauty of the God I say I love. I've been inconsistent and a fool, and I have probably created some space in your mind that you're just not confident that the God I believe in could help save and deliver you from sin. So will you forgive me for that?
[me: that was the sorry part…here is the not sorry part:]
But won't you let my hypocrisy at least be a space in which we can have the conversation that my God is so generous that in my hypocrisy he's patient, longsuffering, and loving toward me in Christ Jesus? Can I tell you about Christ that makes my God be so longsuffering with me? Would you not think that a God would look at my inconsistency and light me up? Yet he does not. He loves me and cares for me and forgives me.
Or, "Hey, man, will you forgive me?"
"I've known you for years, and maybe it has been my own lack of courage or maybe I didn't want to ruin this friendship, but honestly, I'd love to tell you about my relationship with Jesus and what God has done in my life." Then you just get into your story and where God found you and how he has grown you and where you currently struggle. Never be prettier than you are.” //
Yes we do mess up and we should own that. Our identity is not "flawless sinners saved by grace", but simply "flawed sinners saved by grace."
Martin Luther once said, "We are all mere beggars showing other beggars where to find bread." Christians have found Someone (Jesus the Bread of Life) who can fill the grand canyon size hole in our heart that we so often want to fill up with a teaspoonful of dirt. Only he can satisfy our deepest cravings and our greatest need.