Thoughts to Ponder

How do you represent Christ?

I received several messages from non-Christians who had visited my page. There was a central theme running through these messages; that God is a God of hate. I replied and asked why they thought this. I was told it is because of things Christians have told them. For example, that Christians hate homosexuals. There were other examples also, but this one is one that a person hears often in daily life. We are told that we should be tolerant of different lifestyles.

It made me think about how we as Christians view other people in contrast to the way God views other people. Do we hate homosexuals as these people who wrote me claimed? Or do we accept homosexuals openly and not worry about their lifestyle?

Which do you think God does? Does He open His arms and say, "I created you that way so it is okay" or does He hate homosexuals?

There are churches today that ordain openly practicing homosexuals as clergy. There are churches that will preform homosexual marriages. Are these churches more Christ like than those that hate the homosexual?

If you look at the New Testament you will find that the tax collectors were the most vile of sinners in Christ's time. Or at least they are mentioned when God wants to show sinful people. Christ would go to their houses and eat with them! The Scribes and Pharisees could not stand it, why did this guy who claimed to be the Son of God hang around these vile people?

The answer is because He loved them. But don't miss the point, which is He taught them. He did not accept what they were doing, He loved them enough to try to show them the light so that they might turn from their sinful ways and come to walk in the light. Jesus said it Himself, When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:11-13

So we are back to our question should the church hate homosexuals or openly accept them and their lifestyle? We should do neither. We should love the sinner just as Christ loved sinners but hate the sin. I think we should open our arms to the sinners but never soft pedal God's opinion of sin. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

We were all born into this world as sinners. All of us had evil hearts that loved to do evil. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, - Romans 3:23 Not all of us have had the same temptations. I have never been attracted to another man. I have never felt every cell of my body crave another drop of alcohol. I have never lived only for my next fix of heroin or other drug. I have never felt the almost uncontrollable desire to gamble or steal. I have never been tempted to kill. I have never had the desire to molest a child.

Does all that mean I am a better person than those who have felt those temptations and have fallen? No, I have had my own temptations and fallen for many of them. I have lusted after women who were not my wife. God calls that adultery. I have been filled with hate for someone who has wronged me. God calls that the same as murder. I have coveted belongings or lifestyles of others. God calls that stealing.

When I think about the person I was before I was cleansed by the blood of Jesus, I cannot help but have compassion for those homosexuals, murderers, liars, thieves, adulterers, alcoholics, drug addicts, or whatever else, who have not yet found forgiveness and freedom. But for the grace of God there go I. Having said that I will also say that I abhor those sins. I will not condone or excuse anyone who commits them, but I will love them as Christ loves them. The only difference between them and me is the Blood of Jesus Christ. I have repented, been cleansed and forgiven, and have turned from my sin.

You may find it hard to take a stand and speak out about sin. It is not always easy, you will be called intolerant, a homophob, you will be hated, but you will be doing what God's Word tells you to do. When God commissioned Ezekiel as a prophet He gave him some pretty tough standards to live up to. Here is just one that I think we need to take seriously: (Ezekiel 3:18-19 NIV) When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. I think we would all be a lot more outspoken about what God thinks of sin if we thought people's blood would be on our hands if we didn't speak out. Satan hates evangelism because that is how people come to know Christ. He wants you to be tolerant of sin, don't risk hurting anyone's feelings. Don't be judgmental. Don't turn people off by giving them that old fashioned stuff about hell and sin.

So who are you going to listen to? God or Satan? The gospel is abrasive to the lost, but it is their only hope, whether or not they believe, it is up to them.(1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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