Thinking about Salvation

Yesterday after staff meeting Anh, Mike and myself were talking about the series that CSM is going through.  The students submitted a bunch of questions and Anh and her team are doing their best to answer them.  Great stuff!

One of the questions asked was something to the effect of, to be a Christian do you have to believe that Homosexuality is a sin?  That’s a pretty complicated question and I think most people would answer yes.

And I do think that Homosexuality is one expression of the sin nature that is found in all of humanity.  I want to be very clear on that.  I know this issue is very complicated and and usually very painful.  It’s painful for me because I know people who are gay.  I love them, and my heart is heavy for them.  I wish I could say that it was ok, but I cannot do that and stay faithful to the Bible’s definition of sexual immorality.  I can’t do it.  That’s where I land.

But the question that was asked is not so much about sin as it is about salvation.  So what does it mean to be saved?  And I’ve been thinking about this.  What does Jesus ask of us?

First, Jesus saved you from your sin.  Jesus died for your sin.  When you follow Jesus and accept the grace that he provided on the cross, he is calling you to turn away from your sin.  Are you following Jesus?  Are you letting go of your sin?  If the answer is yes, then I would say that you are a Christian.

Jesus is concerned about all the sins of the world, but for you and Jesus you need to see what your sin is and turn from it.  That could be lying, stealing, sexual sin, gluttony, gossip, greed, etc.  Know what your sin is and walk away from it.

Second, if you love people you will tell them the truth.  And the truth is that Jesus wants us to turn from sin and turn towards him.  All sin, from all people, can be forgiven by the Grace of Jesus.  Our job as Christians is the tell people about the grace of Jesus, and let Jesus do the work of tranforming hearts and drawing people out of their sin.  Your job is to tell them about Jesus.  You do your job, let Jesus and the Holy Spirit do theirs.

This is part of an underlying concern that I see in some church circles: naming other people’s sins.  Christian, do you have your sin all figured out and resolved?  Do you think you are helping Jesus when you yell at people because of their sin?  You can talk about sin and what the Bible says about sin, but if you start picketing people because of their sins then I think you make Jesus more angry than that person’s sin.

The Bible gives us guidelines for how to handle people who are blatantly sinning within the church.  The motivation must be love in all of these things.  But the Bible never tells us to protest the sin of those outside of the church. Rather, we are supposed to set an example for those who are outside of the church, so that they would actually want to get to know Jesus and find his grace.

Turn from your sin before you stone others.

Jesus wants your heart.  I don’t think he wants you to point out the sin in someone else’s heart.

one final image to help make sense of my ramblings.

I have two kids. Judah and Jocelyn.

They like to make a mess of my house.  They have toys all over the place.  That’s what kids do.  It’s fine.  However, sometimes when I ask Judah to clean up his toys, his response is not, “Ok daddy I’ll clean up my toys.”

Often he says this, “Jossy isn’t cleaning up her toys.”

To which I have to respond, “Judah, I will handle Joss.  I want you to get your toys cleaned up.”

When we busy ourselves with pointing out other people’s sins and faults, we are acting like my four year old son.  Jesus is talking to your about your sin, don’t try to deflect the issue to other people.  Get your heart in order before you start worrying about all the things that other people are doing wrong.


The real thing

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to speak.  My portion of Scripture was 1 Cor 16.5-24.  This chunk is Paul’s closing statements to the church in Corinth.  It’s kind of a hard type of text to preach from because Paul uses a lot of short ideas, expresses greetings and prayers, and stuff like that.  It’s hard to have a big idea so I was a little nervous about how this whole thing was going to go over.

In verse 9 Paul says: ” . . . a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

I keyed in on this verse for a time talking about how when you are called to something that does not mean it’s going to be easy.  I then followed my wife’s advice and talked about my youth ministry experience and the opposition that we experienced when we came on staff at Creekside Church.  This is not something that I have ever really talked about openly with the congregation.

These kinds of experiences are a challenge for me to talk about publicly because I don’t really want to deal with people feeling sorry for me.  But It was a very authentic time in the sermon.  And I think it helped people understand me better, but to also understand that their calling may be challenging and that’s ok.  Don’t bail.

The point of this whole post is really just to realize that people want the real thing.  And if you can embrace who you are, your story, and what God’s called you to do, people will respect that.  But if you try to cover up who you really are and put on a show for people, that’s exhausting and people will find you out.

Be the real deal.  Be authentic.  Tell the truth.

I have had more responses to this sermon and my story than almost any other sermon.  God honors vulnerability.  And God can use your vulnerability to encourage others with their struggles.