Christianity 201

October 27, 2018

Many of our Problems are due to Selfishness

We’re back for a sixth time with Paul Steele at the blog Paul’s Ponderings. Click the title below to read at source.

Be Disturbed

We live in a world full of good. It has exceptional beauty, delicious food, amazing fun, and wonderful relationships.

In spite of the good we experience in the world, we know it is not entirely good. Our experience of life tells us that the world is a combination of good and evil.

According to the Bible, the world was created good by God, but has been corrupted by the sin of angels and humans. We live in a fallen world.

One of the ways we see this corruption at work is the selfishness that exists in people. The worst selfishness that we are exposed to is the selfishness that exists in our own hearts.

Many of the problems that we face throughout life, both big and small, can be traced back to selfishness.

This reality is understandable when we remember that we spend our entire lives with ourselves. Our entire perspective on life centers around our experience of the world. It is logical to expect that our comfort, cares, and desires would be at the forefront of what we are most concerned about.

Christian spiritual formation is important because it calls us to lay aside our cares and concerns and adopt the cause of Jesus. For this to happen we have to intentionally lay aside our rights and desires. It is through those process we are able to understand the injustices and indignities inflicted and the rest of humanity.

Dallas Willard wrote:

“Apprentices of Jesus will be deeply disturbed about many things, but they will be largely indifferent to the fulfillment of their own desires as such. Merely getting their own way has no significance for them, does not disturb them.”

Renovation of the Heart, p. 72

Pause for a moment and ponder: What disturbs you?

When I think about what disturbs me on a regular basis I am saddened. I am saddened because I get the most disturbed by the inconveniences and interruptions to my agenda.

God has shown me this reality through my children. I dearly love my three kids, but they have the ability of frustrating me like no one else does. Why is that?

I get frustrated, I get disturbed, because they have minds of their own and they don’t always do what I ask them to do. They disrupt my plan and that bothers me.

What is the cure for that? The cure is to become like Jesus.

The apostle Paul wrote:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:3-5; NLT)

Here we discover the goal of Christian spiritual formation: to develop the attitude of Jesus.

Key to this attitude is humility. It is having that ability to look past our own agenda and see the needs of other people. We are to take an interest in the lives of those around us.

One of my favorite passages for the Gospels is Matthew 9:36:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (NLT)

Jesus was disturbed by the needs of the people around him. He didn’t blame them for their condition or lecture them about the inconvenience they were causing him, but he had compassion on them. They needed help and he took time to help them.

One of the prayers we need to pray in our pursuit of Christian formation is to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. We need to see the things that disturb Jesus so we can learn what should be disturbing us as well.


As I was reading Paul’s Ponderings, I really appreciated all of the articles written for October, 2018 and encourage you to visit to read more.

August 20, 2015

Love the Sinner. Period.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 -Romans 5:8 NIV

This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
 I John 4:10 NLT

Today’s author was recommended to us, and the topic under discussion is a phrase that we often hear used in Christian circles, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  This really got me thinking, though I’m not sure I have this resolved yet, because like many of you, I’ve grown up around verses like:

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
 -Romans 12:9 NASB

The LORD hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to Him:
arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil,

a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers.
-Proverbs 6:16-18 HCSB

You might want to keep these last two verses in mind as you read what follows. How do you incorporate their principles and at the same time not develop a harmful attitude toward people in your sphere of influence?

John Pavlovitz is an writer who came recommended to us, and describes himself as “pastor, blogger, speaker, and author.” There are a number of other thought provoking articles on his site; click the title below to read this at source, and then navigate the website to see other topics.

 

3 Reasons “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin” Is An Abomination

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Rarely in history has there been a greater mis-characterization of the heart of Jesus or a more egregious bastardization of the Bible than these six words.

The damage that LTSHTS has done in the lives of billions of people and to the public perception of Christians can never be fully calculated, but one thing is certainly true: it’s an embarrassment and a sin and a total abomination—and here are three reasons why:

1) Jesus never said it. 

Lots of Christians would have us believe that Jesus would be totally on-board with LTSHTS, but the simple truth is that he never prescribed anything like it in Scripture. Jesus was crystal clear in his teachings about our calling to love: God, and our neighbor as ourselves, one another as he loved us, our enemies, sacrificially, extravagantly, relentlessly—but never with caveats or qualifications. He never let anything about a person’s life keep them from intimate fellowship with him (and he was the only one qualified to do so).

LTSHTS supporters will ask rhetorically, “Well doesn’t Jesus preach against sin and therefore hates it? Isn’t hating sin just being obedient to him?” Jesus always spoke to people about their own lives; about the sins they were personally called to address in response to him. Whatever repentance Jesus was inviting people to, it was on their behalf, it was never on behalf of anyone else. His words were never given as license to police someone else’s moral condition, but to use a mirror to assess one’s own. Any behavior modification, any inner conviction, any heart change would be between Jesus and those hearing his words. Only he decides the work he does. We don’t get to play middleman between Christ and another human being. We are assigned the tasks of feeding, healing, and caring for those we cross paths with, in his name.

Unfortunately for those so clinging to LTSHTS, Jesus commands us to love people—period.

2) It’s cowardly and morally inconsistent.

Let’s be honest here. Whenever any Christian uses the phrase LTSHTS, it’s never in the context of anything other than gender identity and sexuality, which itself is an indictment of the words themselves. It isn’t as though these faithful folks spend their entire lives dispensing the kind of behavior-based malevolence that LTSHTS always comes packaged with. It’s not as though they continually scour the Scriptures, applying their theological understandings of sin to those in their midst who might lie or steal or commit adultery or love money or drink to excess. If they truly loved those “sinners” and hated those “sins” enough to treat people as horribly as they treat the LGBTIQ community for the sins they charge them with, they’d have nobody left who could ever stand to be in their presence. LTSHTS is simply an exercise in selective, subjective sin-shaming and targeted discrimination disguised as righteousness.

If you’re a Christian and you’re going to choose to be hateful or biased toward people based on their gender identity and sexuality, you may as well just come out and say it. Own your discomfort or displeasure. Hiding behind LTSHTS is just using Jesus as justification for the kind of behavior he would be quite appalled by. It isn’t Christlikeness, it’s cowardice.

3) It’s a relationship-killer.

At the core of LTSHTS is the argument that gender identity and sexual orientation are somehow choices (an idea that runs counter to everyone’s experience of both, of course, but that’s neither here nor there). The speaker of LTSHTS believes that the person in question is making a decision to do something that the speaker believes is inherently sinful, yet (the speaker claims) they are able to somehow separate a sexual act (which they despise), with the person engaging in said act (whom they supposedly love). I’d really like a practical unpacking of how that all works with actual people, but I doubt it will be forthcoming.

Never mind that gender identity and sexual orientation are for all of us, both far greater than simply any physical acts we perform, and therefore to characterize LGBTIQ people as inherently sinful for only those acts themselves, is completely flawed from both a Biblical and common sense perspective.

But someone’s sin isn’t really the issue here and we don’t even have to agree on that. Regardless of our theological perspective, we can’t ignore that at the heart of Jesus’ life and ministry is the way he drew people close to him, listened to them, touched them, broke bread with them, wept with them, and treated them with dignity, as equals.

When a follower of Christ claims that they LTSHTS, they are saying two things loudly and unquestionably to a LGBTIQ person:

One, that he or she knows that person’s body and heart from a distance, better than the person in question knows from the inside.

And two, that what those people are telling them is involuntary about themselves, they are characterizing as despicable. They are declaring them as inherently defective, vile, evil. I’m not sure those who wield LTSHTS so causally have any real idea how damaging and hurtful that is; what it really speaks to the hearer’s heart. If they did, I’m certain they would see the complete absence of Jesus in it.

To say to a LGBTIQ person, “I love you but I hate your sexuality”, is the same as saying to someone, “I love you, but the color of your eyes disgusts me”, or “I love you, but I hate the way you laugh”, or “I love you, but God believes that the freckles on your shoulders and cheeks are an abomination.”

LTSHTS is not (as its practitioners allege) a balanced phrase, but a hateful phrase; one that never makes a relationship between two parties better or closer or richer, it only severs or prevents the very kind of intimate fellowship Jesus forged, even with those he disagreed with. To utter it is to stand in complete opposition to the life he lived and to the ministry he practiced.

Christian, there are many more reasons why “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin” needs to be killed and buried forever, but those are a great start.

The bottom line, is that it is a phrase that injures, demeans, judges, and ostracizes people who are made in the image of God, and those are things that should never be on the agenda of someone claiming to be following in the footsteps of Jesus.

We’re talking here about important conversations, regarding extremely complex issues, with incredibly diverse human beings. These all deserve much more than a cheap, insulting catch-phrase. They deserve far greater effort than a lazy religious platitude which doesn’t work when fleshed out in real relationships and serves no redemptive purpose.

LTSHTS is about as sinful as we can get, friends. 

To never utter that phrase again, may be the very repenting Christians ought to do—but that’s between you and Jesus.

As for me?

I love you, Christian, but I really hate the way you, “love the sinner, hate the sin.”