As I continue to read through Jeremiah, I’m constantly struck by the similarity between the moral state of their nation and of ours. The Israelites were intentionally ignoring God while sacrificing even their children to idols. Instead of seeking holiness through obedience to the Lord who loved them, they were focused on feeding their appetite for power and wealth. Over and over God decried the lack of justice in the land. He sent prophets to warn them, and they mocked God’s word.
I’d been feeling pretty good about myself. I haven’t been committing adultery, I wasn’t coveting my neighbor’s wife or donkey, nor had I murdered anyone, at least lately. I figured that God must be pretty pleased with how well I was obeying His instructions.
I was a bit less self-assured when I got to the part where Jesus takes the Ten Commandments and expounds on them. No, I hadn’t murdered anyone, but there was that time when that driver cut me off…. But calling him a fool was justified! Did you see what he did? Er, God?
So I was still fairly confident—until I came to Matthew 5:48. This is the verse where Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Perfect? You’ve got to be kidding! Nobody’s perfect!
And that, of course, was the point. God is perfect. We are not.
Have you read The Harbinger yet? I just finished this book, and I’m reeling.
Since its publication in January, 2012, friend after friend has been urging me to read The Harbinger, and it’s still setting records on numerous best-seller lists. I finally got my hands on a copy (there was a substantial waiting list at the library)—and read it in one sitting. Yes, it’s one of those books you cannot put down.
Although related as a fictional story, that’s really just window dressing. Author Jonathan Cahn takes a passage from Isaiah—focusing on Isaiah 9:10—and interprets it in light of the events of the past ten years. He relates Isaiah’s warning to Israel to America: the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, statements made by prominent politicians (including President Obama), and the subsequent economic meltdown. The details are astonishing.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2, italics mine)
But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Areyou not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13, italics mine)
Confused yet? I certainly have been. How can I reconcile verses that seemingly contradict one another?
As I mentioned in my post last week on “Hate the sin…”, there seems to be a backlash among Christian writers. Everyone is up in arms over survey results showing that the church is primarily known for its judgmentalism and hypocrisy. In an effort to repair the damage and improve our image—and hopefully move closer to the truth—a number of noted authors are coming out with books proclaiming God’s grace and acceptance of everyone and everything. The problem is many of them are ignoring the reality and consequences of sin. Here are my thoughts on three recent reads:
“Hate the sin but love the sinner.” I’m sure that’s Hesitations 3:16, isn’t it? How often have we heard that phrase and just accepted it as gospel truth. But is it?
I have no problem with the idea of loving the sinner. I do that all the time. I love my friends. I love my kids. I love my husband. I even love my self.
Of course, “love the sinner” is usually used with regard to unbelievers. In that case, it’s even more clear. We’re supposed to love our neighbors, no matter what their view of God. Yet, often the church doesn’t do a very good job of this.