Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sinners Not Seeking Truth Hate Jesus (and Us)

Within the Christian subculture of those who love Jesus and keep 'traditional' churches at arm's length, there is a false belief that has become almost an axiom for the movement. It goes like this:
"People without Jesus will want to know Jesus because we love them, do good things for them, and accept them."
Embracing this philosophy has sadly led many evangelicals to cast off speaking anything defined as 'truth.' It has led Christians to start 'new churches' that are designed never to offend anyone. Though Jesus said, "the Truth will set you free," it seems modern Jesus followers are afraid to say 'God has made us for a purpose,  and He has the exclusive right to tell us how to live our lives."

As a result, modern Christians often look and live the way the world looks and lives.  In a recent scientific survey that tracked Christian sexual morality, a stunning conclusion was reached:
"Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable."
Interesting. The world sees nothing wrong with hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, or abortion, and professing Christians who support 'same-sex marriage' tend to look and live a great deal like the world. Dr. Mark Regerus,  associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas and the author of the survey, concluded that it is reasonable 'to expect continued change in more permissive directions' within the modern church.

I propose that those of us who follow Jesus in the 21st century are missing the expectation that when we live and speak like Jesus lived and spoke, we will be hated without a cause.

Jesus was friend to sinners. He ate with the tax collectors and the prostitutes. He was good to them. But He always spoke the truth. Likewise, He was kind to the Jews, but He never hesitated to tell them where they were missing God. Those who sought Him out were seeking Truth. But a large number of people 'hated' Him.

Jesus told us He was 'hated without a cause' (John 15:25). That means He loved people so much that He was unafraid to tell people the truth. He was always going about 'doing good.' He was always loving and accepting of people. But He never hesitated to tell people those things that would set them free from their destructive self-indulgent lifestyles. For this reason, He was 'hated without a cause.' In this same chapter (John 15), Jesus says three things about those who are called His followers.

(1). "If you belong to the world (i.e. 'a system of living that is anti-truth and anti-Christ'), the world will love you" (John 15:19a).
(2). "But I have chosen you out of the world, and you belong to Me... this is why the world hates you" (John 15:19b).
(3). "The world will persecute you because they persecuted Me...for they do not know Me" (John 15:20-21)

He then concludes: - "They hated me without a cause" (John 15:25).

Churches have an obligation to be 'seeker friendly,' but we make a very horrible and strategic mistake if we equate being seeker friendly with being 'fond to sinners' who aren't seeking.

We Jesus followers are to be kind and loving toward those who think and act as if same-sex marriage, adultery, pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are normal and acceptable. We also have the obligation to speak the truth to them.

Expect to be hated like Jesus was hated - 'without a cause.'


Johnny D. said...

Thanks, Wade. I needed this today. I've been dealing with some hate from some folks, and my resentment towards them for their hate. You know, they can't help it. The natural human does not understand the things of the Spirit. They can't. This post is a great wake-up call.

Bob Cleveland said...

I'll never forget the testimony of a missionary candidate, sent to an urban area in Africa. He said he went there expecting to find people hungry for truth, crying out for salvation. Instead, he found "people deep in sin, and loving it".

Someone once said you cannot cross a huge chasm in small steps. And there's a huge chasm between an unrepentant sinner and a Holy God.

Wade Burleson said...

Two outstanding comments. Thanks, Johnny and Bob!

Christiane said...

In chapter 18 of the Holy Gospel of St. Luke, Our Lord teaches us what is pleasing to God:

"9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The hardest lesson of all to take in is that we ourselves are among those in constant need of Christ's mercy and forgiveness. If we wish to have grace and the fruit of the Holy Spirit present in our lives, we must honor Him in humility. Out of that humility comes a truth that does not point at 'the others', but towards Our Lord Who is Himself both the light and the strength for the sojourn. We are His servants. We are here to serve those who need Him. We bring nothing of value to them but Him, the 'one needful thing'. . . any judgment of 'the others' that is born of self-righteousness is not pleasing to God, and will not bear fruit in the Kingdom of God.

Satan waits for signs of pride in us, and he uses this against all creation. May Our Lord keep us from the sin of pride, and so deliver us from the resulting evil.

Anonymous said...

Thanks and amen!

The trend today is that if you, without pointing a finger at anyone, say "The scripture teaches xyz is a sin", you will be called a finger pointing, hypocritical, unloving, judgmental Pharisee or worse.

There is a huge gap between saying "Suzy is a sinner because she is shacking up" and saying "Cohabitation is sin" and letting Suzy draw her own conclusions.

May we never fear both loving people and speaking the truth.

And yeah, it will cost us. Big time.

Linda (from the oilfields)

Aussie John said...


I absolutely agree with your article, but may I be cheeky and change your words slightly to encompass much of what I have, with much sadness, observed, and experienced during some 60 or so years in churches?

" Within the Christian 'traditional' churches there is a false belief which goes like this:
"People without Jesus will come to our church services if they want to know Jesus because we warmly welcome them, do good things for them, and accept them, when they come."

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stevenstarkmusic said...

"Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable."

Interesting that they only choose issues of a sexual nature. Many conservative Christians favor an ethic focusing on notions of "sanctity" or "purity", often derived from external authoritarian rules. Many other folks are much more consequentialist in their moral decision-making. Who does this hurt? Who does it help?

What correlations would the study have found on the important questions of caring for one's neighbor? Appropriate levels of individual wealth accumulation? When violence is justified?

I would guess we would see results similar to many conservative Christians, or perhaps more stringent. Those who find same-sex marriage acceptable may also have a more strict ethic on personal giving, for instance. But this is speculation.

In other words, perhaps it is more appropriate to put more emphasis on people's morality outside of their own bedrooms.

But the larger question the post is addressing is interesting. How much should any group accommodate members, and how much should it ask of them? Without the former, no one joins the group. Without the latter, membership is meaningless.

I often joke that there tends to be an inverse relationship between a church's theology and its service. The more ecumenical the theology, the more conservative ("high church") the service. The more conservative the theology, there are kids playing video games, watching movies and skateboarding during services. And people singing "7-11 songs" - 7 words, repeated 11 times........ :)

Christiane said...

some food for thought:

"Saint Luke directs attention away from himself towards Christ. He participates in the mission of the Church, but he does not allow himself to become the focus, he disappears into his mission- accepting that it is the life and presence of Christ that he is called to bear into the world, not himself.
It is because of this that Christ's holiness became radiant in him and he was transfigured as one through whom others could meet the presence of the Lord."

S. Grunow

Anonymous said...

"Churchgoing Christians who support same-sex marriage are more likely to think pornography, cohabitation, hook-ups, adultery, polyamory, and abortion are acceptable."

This makes sense in light of all the pastors/priests out there who have been caught in sexual sin even of a heinous nature like pedophilia. Or pastors who excuse it of others right away with cheap grace.

Christiane said...

"People without Jesus will want to know Jesus because we love them, do good things for them, and accept them."

I think that axiom needs a different perspective, I would re-write it, this:
""People without Jesus will want to know Jesus because HE loved them, did good things for them, and accepted them."

A poem, author unknown, invites the many modern outcasts (who are held in contempt by the righteous) to come and look upon Christ with hope:

“God uses the stutterer who stammers a resignation,
He speaks through youth who quake in their shoes.

He shares secrets with prostitutes, moon seekers and stargazers,
Visits with strangers of small stature in trees.

He employs sarcastic donkeys and keeps sparrows secure.
Exalts smelly fishermen to positions of honor.

His deep knowledge is grasped by children
And His simple message is scoffed at by sages.

He spits on blind eyes, chases hypocrites OUT of church,
Offends prideful offenders, defends the humble defenseless;

Inclusively exclusive,
He is the ultimate Paradox,
An Epiphany Beyond Time “

Chris Riley said...

If we would to look exclusively at Baptist life and history as a pendulum, would it be safe to say they "tepidness" of today's Baptist church is a direct extreme swing to the extreme fundamentalism of the 80-90's? I concur with E.Y. Mullins about "living in the tension" is the truthful, honorable, and Christian way to follow God. That is: speaking the truth in love is not easy, but all of it is required in order for the church to stay to true to the mission.

Anonymous said...

It seems that ALL churches compromise the "truth" to avoid "confrontation". We practice selective categorizing of behavior that is the worst "sin" based upon what is popular among our own church culture.

For instance, church-going Christians who do NOT support same-sex marriage (you and me) are likely to be silent and avoid addressing those sins such as "abortion as murder", the sin of divorce, the sin of "divorcees living in adultery when re-marrying", the sin of "gluttony" and "obesity". We even avoid pointing out the sin of the "Catholic church distorting the Gospel truth" and portraying it as it is, a "cult" probably because that would be a very social "poo-poo".

The hypocrisy of seeing a 400-pound preacher getting all "red-faced" about the abomination of men having sex with men and women having sex with women and all his rotund congregation affirming with loud "AMEN!!"s might be amusing to me if it were not so sad .

I have to be careful not to try pulling the "speck" out of my neighbor's eye.

Victorious said...

We also have the obligation to speak the truth to them.

I may be missing the point of this post and/or the wouldn't be the first time.

But having an obligation to speak the truth is rather ambiguous to me. I wouldn't dream of lying about scriptural truths or my beliefs if I'm asked, but neither do I feel its appropriate to randomly point out sins of others to them. And I don't see Jesus doing so either except in the case of the Pharisees who are publicly rebuking Him.

I don't participate in activities I consider sinful and if asked why, I don't hesitate to say why. I think we need wisdom to know "how to respond" to each person when asked. Col. 4:6

Unknown said...

You won't be held accountable for who other people hate; only who you hate.
Just because you are religious, doesn't exempt you from the command, be kind and love one another.
Stop the fighting, and lay down your judgment.
If your religion is making you reject others , you're doing it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Victorious said:
"but neither do I feel it's appropriate to randomly point out sins of others to them. And I don't see Jesus doing so either except in the case of the Pharisees who are publicly rebuking Him."

I believe that you and I agree on this basically in that we shouldn't select those sinful lifestyles in which "we" happen to not be involved and use them to bash people on the head.

But Jesus did point out sins and bashed people on the head with them; He said things to not do; "don't lust after women/don't divorce/don't love the things of the world more than God/ don't judge others in a way that you don't judge yourself/ don't hate those who hate you/ don't make promises that you can't keep/ don't pray proudly so that others will be impressed/ don't go around bragging to people that you've been fasting for 20 days." He preached this to the masses, not only the Jewish leaders.

I don't believe preachers are doing the job that God called them out to do if they are not the voice of consciousness in society even when it's not politically correct and when it confronts the listeners in the pews. I think that may be the challenge that Wade is putting out there. It's scary because people living in the sinful lifestyles shout that the preachers are trying to elevate themselves above others but I guess that's why they stone prophets, huh?

Christiane said...

I agree with CINDY.

... strange things happen when grace DOESN'T condemn, but only allows someone to share the Presence of Christ with those who do not know Him . . . there ARE Christian people who come to others and do not bear a spirit of condemnation, but instead bear a spirit of humility before the Lord.
The gift of holy grace involved in a lack of condemnation opens a door for Christ to enter in, which is something the less-than-patient among us often have difficulty understanding.

It is the sacred and mighty work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the hearts of sinners. There are no sinless middle-men in this process.

To finger-point and to assume a more righteous position than 'that other sinner' is not pleasing to God. And, for many who see it, will come thoughts of the arrogance and pride involved.

Victorious said...

RRR said:

" He preached this to the masses, not only the Jewish leaders."

Preaching against sin is very different than confronting individuals with their sin. I could be wrong, but I don't know of any instance where Jesus pointed out an individual's sin to them (other than the Pharisees). Even the Samaritan woman at the well didn't get a confrontational "sin" speech. I'm of the opinion she got discarded so many times she would have been further devastated had to accused her of sinning.

I'm willing to be corrected if you can post Jesus confronting individuals and naming their sin.

Victorious said...

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 1Peter 4:8

Curious Thinker said...

I agree with most of what your said. However, I don't think it's good to generalize. For an example I wouldn't quick to assume if a church supports same-sex marriages that they will also support adultery or pornography. As someone else stated it's possible to support one thing an still hold strict moral beliefs about the other things. I too don't believe it's my place to go around pointing out people's every sins and condemning them as if I myself am sinless which I'm not as we all are sinners. Jesus said himself that whoever never sinned should cast the first stone. Great post.

Anonymous said...

My relationship with Jesus does not make me reject others, but it sure does make me reject some actions.

Most of those are actions I would probably be otherwise tempted to engage in.

If others happen to be attracted to those forbidden actions also, does that mean I should never mention Christ forbids them?

No, we speak the truth of the right or wrong of actions, and the necessity of a Savior. Some will respond and come to Christ. Some will condemn us as judgmental.

So be it. Speaking the truth, done with love, is certainly not sin.

Linda from the oilpatch.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you, as I suspected I would, because I generally do agree with your comments.

Christiane said...

if people are COMMITTED to judging others, then here is something to consider:

If we wish to follow Our Lord's way, it is possible we need to look at others with a great generosity of heart, as was modeled by Our Lord Himself, when He was among us.
Remember, He desires from us a kindness towards one another.

Looking at a person in a different light can do a lot of good. . . .
can we find in them something we did not see at first,
something of ‘goodness’ to celebrate for their sake (and for ours)?

‘You have to judge every person generously.
Even if you have reason to think that person is completely wicked, it’s your job to look hard and seek out some bit of goodness, someplace in that person where he is not evil.
When you find that bit of goodness,
and judge that person that way,
you really may (help to) raise him/her up to goodness.
Treating people this way (may) allow them to be restored,
to come to teshuvah (to turn towards the Lord).’
(Reb Nachman of Bratzlav)

Did Our Lord see something in people that no one else saw?
Was He kind to them? Time and time again, the sacred Scriptures tell us of this.
We need to understand this better, I think, for our sake and for those we tend to judge, so that we can live in imitation of Him.

The key thing to remember is to do this with INTEGRITY.

. . . and always with compassion for any person who has a great need of it in order to strengthen them to take those first steps towards reflection and repentance.

Anonymous said...

Great study. This is truly an encouragement for those pastors struggling with personal attacks. I have yet to meet a pastor who has avoided some sort of abuse. If you decide to be a pastor you better have thick skin and know how to handle yourself around thin skinned congregants. Follow Jesus. It is the best example.

Preachers Boy

Unknown said...

Linda, speaking the truth in love is not a sin. However, no matter how well you speak, and speak for God, if it is not done with love, it is like a sounding gong; annoying, and no one want to listen. Unfortunately, that is what the church sounds like.
We should agree that discipline without love, is abuse. That is what the church is doing to gay people, abusing them.
Love includes acceptance. If you love someone you accept them as they are, just as Christians accepted you.
Also, in all your getting get understanding. If you love someone you try to understand them. Gay people were too religious, and sexually traumatized. That is my understanding.
They were too religious, by believing when bad things happen it is God punishing them for something they did wrong. Say, I lusted so therefore I was raped. Then I must rejected my sexuality, because that is what caused this.
And unless you have a God given gift to do that, it will come out sideways. Because sexuality is something very strong the Lord put in us, to carry out the first commandment, to procreate.
Anyway this is just my understanding, ask God for your own. I'm just saying, try understanding instead of condemning. Because you come across love less, and that with get you no where with God, or the world.
With my understanding of gay people, all the rejection of them only strengthens, their sin.
Lastly, when you reject someone, if you are good enough at it, then you can cause them to reject themselves. Then you are just like the snake in the garden, causing Eve to reject herself, so she will reject God, and do the first sin.
All rejection leads to sin and death!