All Life is Precious
By Jim Allen
Have you ever been speechless? I was recently. Perhaps you've heard? A pastor from a church poured a toxic mix of hatred and judgment on the victims in the Orlando shooting massacre. His abhorrence toward the LGBTQ community was so reprehensible and objectionable I dare not repeat it. What he said was so far outside the appeal of Christendom that most fail to grasp how it could be true.
The secular news media reported the pastor's rant was "detestable and insensitive" to the surviving injured and family members of the slain. Those slighted felt the shame of undeserved judgment from a pastor at a time when "compassion and prayer" would have been the right response. Now, the LGBTQ community and grieving family members look upon his hate-filled rant and wonder at the authenticity of Christendom.
If they cannot see the genuineness of Jesus abiding in the pulpit then anything said from there will be suspect and leave them unpersuaded, hollowed, and forever unmoved by the redeeming power of the Gospel. They will reason, and rightly so, that if Jesus is not real in the heart of the one speaking on His behalf then how can He be real to anyone.
Apparently, some in the church are not getting the message. Jesus did not come to judge people in their sin but to save them from it. Of this merciful truth He said, "And if anyone hears my words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world" (John 12:47).
Even so, people judge people all the time. When meeting someone for the first time we make rulings about demeanor, looks, intelligence, persona, and so on. I get that. But this is not what Jesus is talking about.
The Apostle Paul mimics the words of Jesus by writing, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside" (1 Corinthians 5:12)? Paul is saying the church has no business judging anyone on the outside of our community. We dare not judge because we do not have all the facts. And if we did, our immeasurable levels of imperfection would skew the results.
But, why did this pastor say they were unworthy of life? They had every right to live. These mostly young people lived believing and hoping each day in Orlando would be better than the day before. They were like us in many ways. They had moms and dads and brothers and sisters who loved them. They had a passion for life.
They had jobs, homes and responsibilities. They had feelings and desires they neither understood nor knew how to explain. They struggled within themselves and equally within the norms of society. They felt trapped and alone. They felt cutoff by the rejection, wanting only a safe place to be free.
S. Michael Houdmann addressed their struggle by writing, "The vast majority of Christians believe you have the right to live your life however you want and to love whomever you want. Most Christians may disagree with your lifestyle, but they also believe you should be free to live that lifestyle in peace." (Source)
Obviously, not everyone in the church shares this view. The offending pastor most assuredly did not. He didn't stop to think his words would reach beyond the wounded and slain in Orlando to crush the dads and moms and friends left to mourn. He did not see his hatred as an offense to God (1 John 4:8). He did not see his hatred adding to the already blemished message of the Gospel held in contempt by LBGTQ communities across America.
My point is that the only people Jesus ever judged, aside from the money exchangers in the Temple, were the religious leaders who shut men out from the kingdom of God (Matthew 23:13). These self-avowed holy men were the scribes and Pharisees of the day. They saw themselves as hallowed, called of God, and able to live above the likes of beguiled men. But of this holy elite Jesus said they were white tombs beautiful to look at on the outside but on the inside full of dead men's bones (Matthew 23:27).
Many of us have precious family members and friends who do not share our faith. Some may be members in a local LGBTQ community. We do not hate, judge, or condemn them. We respect their right to live and their freedom to believe as they choose. But, we also pray God will one day open their hearts to discover the "lifestyle" above all lifestyles (John 3:16).
But for this pastor to judge members of the LGBTQ community to be unworthy of life and deserving of death is so wrong on so many levels I don't know where to begin. The Apostle Paul wrote that "only God" has the right to judge people outside the church (Romans 1:2). One believer dialing into this debate shared his feelings about this pastor's insensitivity by saying:
The church seems to have forgotten that its role in serving Christ has far less to do with social and governmental action than with demonstrating what it means to be a people who live in partnership with the Triune God. This "pastor" seems to have forgotten that all life is precious and that in singling out one group as "perverted" distracts from the Scriptures teaching that all have sinned and that the wages of sin is death.Preaching "hate" from the pulpit is a perversion of the Gospel. Hatred and judgment are pharisaical traits Jesus will never excuse and someday severely judge. Although most believers are loving and kindhearted, some are surely not what they claim. Their judgmental abhorrence of others marks them as dark stains on the white robe of Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:24-30).
At the heart of the gospel is the fact that no human can earn or deserves a life with God...it is a gift given by God to all those who believe in the resurrection of Christ. In labeling those killed in the Orlando shooting the way he has, he seems to have forgotten (among other things) his own sin and the way(s) in which he is perverted in his own lifestyle. (Source)
In closing, the Gospel is clear about the charge to love people regardless of their standing before God (1 Peter 2:17; Luke 10:27). Love is that wondrous attribute of the soul — invisible to the world and born from within — that finds a way to place the precious souls of others before their own (John 15:12-13).
Note: As God's ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:19-20) we are here to tell, in a loving way, about the ultimate lifestyle that is available to everyone (John 3:16). Everything that can be said about Jesus and his love for the world is in the Bible; there is nothing to add, nothing to remove, and nothing to be explained away. We do not apologize for the Bible.
If people have a problem with the Bible it's because they don't like the message. When Jesus said go and sin no more, He was talking to all of us (John 8:10-12). It's pretty simple.
Image Credit: Zoi Koraki; "Roko naktys"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Current-Issues | False-Teaching | Sin-Evil
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