You know those statuses on Facebook where someone says, "Today is Whatever Cause It Is Day and you should change your status to say that you support this cause by reposting this to your Facebook page or a worm will eat your big toe and your goldfish will die"?
It was this kind of Facebook post that started this thinking in my head today. A friend told me about a conversation he had on someone's Facebook wall. The lady posted one of these “Proud to be ______ . Please repost” messages encouraging people to promote the love and acceptance of homosexuals. My friend, a God-fearing Bible-believer, felt called to write a comment on the message saying that God loves and accepts everyone, homosexuals included, even if He does tell us in the Bible that being gay is a sin. This comment set off a bit of a back and forth between my friend and a few others, the end result being that my friend was told that his opinion is welcome as long as it doesn't have to do with something he read from the Bible.
(Let me insert here that I know there are some people that read and interpret the Bible differently. This post is not about that. This post is directed at those who read and interpret the Bible to say that homosexuality is a sin. If you would like to discuss the hermeneutics of homosexuality, we can do that. But I'm not doing it in this post.)
Since I heard about this, I've thought a bit about tolerance, sin, the Bible, and where Christians fit into all of this. As Christians we are to let our light shine so that the world can see Jesus through us. The world asks us to accept and tolerate people who are different from us, however that might look. I wondered how being like Jesus fits into all that. So first, since I like words, I looked a up couple.
Tolerate - Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.
Accept - Receive as adequate, valid, or suitable.
First we're asked to tolerate opinions that we disagree with. I can do that. I can let someone think differently than me. I'm pretty sure Jesus put up with people thinking differently than he. If God wanted us to be drones that all thought the same, we would be. But where's the fun in that? I can tolerate dissenting opinions. I will not interfere with someone thinking differently than I.
But then we're asked to accept, or receive as adequate, valid or suitable. Does that mean I accept an action or practice which I believe to be a sin according to the Bible. Is that something that God wants me to do? Should I just be quiet and let people think I'm okay with something when I'm not? I don't think that's fair, in any situation.
Some Christians turn their lack of acceptance into a personal crusade, targeting those who campaign for acceptance, and spreading messages of hate. I wish those people would look at themselves and see what they are doing. They are acting as judge where they shouldn't, and declaring themselves to be God's voice in messages that go against what the Bible says. And these are the people that have made it so difficult for the rest of us to have normal, level-headed, conversations of God's love and acceptance.
Because God does accept. He doesn't accept the sin, but he definitely accepts the person. Accepting an action and accepting a person are two different things. I will not accept an action that I think is wrong and neither will God. But, I can most certainly accept a person as a created child of God. The decisions another person makes really are between that person and God. They are not ultimately accountable to me but to God. They will have a chance to stand before Him and take credit and blame for all the decisions they made in their life. More importantly for me, I will have to stand before my Creator and my Judge and take credit and blame for everything I've done. I want to be able to tell my God that I'm spreading a message of love, not one of hate.
I know that I will have quite a few other Christian friends reading this and I want to ask them right now what they would do if someone that they knew was gay walked into their church.
Would you welcome them and expect that this is the beginning of change in their sexual orientation? Would you bring them in and tell them right away that being gay is a sin? Would you invite them to sit next to you while hoping they are listening to the words being read about the sinner changing his ways?
Would you realize that your sin of pride and judgment is just as bad as any sin they are guilty of? Would you hope that God looks past your self-righteous behaviour on the day of judgment? Would you even admit your self-righteous behaviour?
The thing is, we are all sinners. Some of us see things a little differently, but we are all sinners. The difference is whether we have Jesus as our Saviour or not. The difference is whether we care enough to accept a person that God has put into our lives, someone that likely needs a little extra love because they are hearing messages of hate and rejection. That's the way Jesus lived his life and the way he ran his ministry, and it's definitely the example we need to follow. If you sit in a church every week, please take this as a challenge to find a way to be Jesus to someone who really needs him.