Arm Yourself – Acceptance

August 10, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I read a comment the other day that got me thinking about something that I’ve seen happening for a long time now. The person who made the comment was out West for an event and said that the people at the event had found “community there and online when they couldn’t find it anywhere else”.  While I don’t know that I could argue with that because I think that that happens any time you have a number of people getting together for a common purpose, it was the idea drawn from this that got me thinking. The person then said that the people stayed connected because they felt accepted, and that this is what Christians need to do. The basic premise is that Christians need to go out into the world and make others feel accepted. This is often promoted as “loving people like Jesus”, “living life with people”, or “getting our lives dirty”.

While I understand some of what’s being said, I didn’t feel right about something in the premise. The premise says that we should go out of our way to make people feel accepted. It says that we should love people “where they are” and “lift them up” (I really dislike Christian clichés). This is what I disagree with and I’ll explain why. So many people talk about loving non-Christians like Jesus, but I have to wonder how many of them know just what that means. I hear them say things like this and then see them attack those who are supposed to be their brothers and sisters. I see them ignore those in their own “church family” that are in need. I hear them gossip about others under the guise of “concern” and prayer. They talk about how Jesus is all loving and that Christians should be too. I wonder if these people have actually read the New Testament or not…

Jesus is God (John 8:58). God is love (1 John 4:16). I don’t think that many would argue with this (even many non-Christians!). One of the problems with this is what people think love is. Many Christians and non-Christians alike see love today as a syrupy, gushy, feeling that sees others in the best light, no matter how they’re living their lives. Biblical love is something different. This can be seen from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus’ first message is recorded as being “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. It wasn’t how He loves everyone. It wasn’t that He wanted them to know that God loves them “where they are”. It was REPENT! Jesus calls all people everywhere to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30). If we spend our time making them feel accepted, what reason will they have to come to God? How will they recognize that they’re sinners or their need to repent of those sins before they die? They’re being told that they’re already accepted. All we’re doing if we try to make others feel accepted is making them more comfortable as they hurtle toward hell at breakneck speed.

This is not the gospel. Many Christians don’t understand that if we truly love people, we’re going to tell them the truth above all else. If we truly love those who are “lost”, we will tell them exactly what will happen to them if they die in their sins without Christ.

It is NOT the Christian’s duty to make people FEEL anything. This is part of the reason that the church has become so ineffective in America today. They are so focused on making people like them and having them feel a certain way that they gloss over or completely ignore what the people really need. Instead of trying to make people feel accepted, how about we preach the truth to them so that THEY WILL BE ACCEPTED? If they are truly accepted by God (we DON’T accept Him – into our hearts or anywhere else – He accepts us!), then they won’t have to be made to feel accepted. They will know that they are accepted by the One who will never leave them or forsake them. Which would you rather have, a feeling that will waver and depend on how others treat you and the situation that you’re in, or a knowing that you are saved from sin and God’s wrath and that He will be your Father, Advocate, and Comforter? It seems like a no-brainer to me. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to concern many in the modern church. Instead, many churches are focused on being entertaining and trying to use worldly methods to draw people into the church. They seem to think that once they draw these people in, they can “preach” the “gospel” to them and they’ll get saved. There are two problems with this. First, the people that are drawn in are there only because they want to be entertained (the premise that the church used to get them there). Once they are no longer entertained, they will leave. Not only that, they will be critical of Christianity and inoculated to the truth. Second, the one thing that the people actually need, the gospel, is watered down to keep the people there, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

The sad thing is that many churches focus all their attention on feelings. I’ve been to them. They talk about how they had a “prompting” or “feeling” that God wanted them to do, say, or act a certain way. Does God do this? Yes. But, is that how He does things the majority of the time? NO! God has given us His Word to guide us and lead us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I believe that a big part of the reason that the church in America is where it’s at is due to the fact that people have followed their feelings instead of Biblical truth. Disagree with me? Look at the growing number of churches that are accepting of homosexuality. Why? Because they feel that the “god” of the New Testament is more loving and loves all of his children and sees homosexual love as ok. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the God of the New Testament the same as the God of the Old Testament? Aren’t there a number of scriptures in both testaments that say that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexuals won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven? (Lev 18:22, Romans 1:26-32, 1 Cor. 6:9-10)

God doesn’t tell us to follow our feelings at all. In fact, He tells us that our heart/mind is deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). Jesus said that our heart/mind is the birthplace of evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and slanders. Instead of getting people to feel anything, we should be showing them that they need to know the truth. If we really love people like Jesus does, then we should be telling them to repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus so that they won’t go to hell. THAT’S loving people like Jesus. Salvation doesn’t come from entertaining people and making them feel accepted or comfortable. It doesn’t come from a watered down gospel that tickles the ears. It comes from the truth of the gospel penetrating the hearts and minds of men, women, and children to show them they’re wretched sinners who will spend eternity in hell if they die in their sins. After this, the grace of God and the death of Christ make sense to them. That’s what Christians should be doing…

Your thoughts?

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