I was watching this video from Frances Chan the other day and he was speaking of some time he spent in Europe. During this time he was brought to some historic churches and he shared some of their history that put Christianity on the wrong side of some social issues of the day. At the end of sharing this he poses a question. What is the modern church on the wrong side of currently? This is an open ended question that gave me pause and challenged me to reflect. You can watch the video here. The section I am referring to is between minute 3;15 to 5:15 if you want the short version.
I am in no way reflecting the thoughts of Francis Chan, but this is my own personal opinion of what I believe the Church is failing on. I believe our actions toward the homosexual community is causing damage and divisions in place of love and unity. I by no means have a complete understanding of all the issues involved, but by the backlash from both camps I know enough to know we are missing something. This is going to be a little deeper than most of my posts so I apologize if I lose anyone here, but I will try to make my thoughts as concise as I can. I also know that this is a highly sensitive issue so I will try to treat it with the utmost respect. I wish to just open some dialogue for healthy lines of communication and understanding.
I am going to be using a book of Philippians in the bible as my main reference to make my first point.The letter was written by a guy named Paul. Paul was a highly ranking religious leader of his time. Kind of like a Cardinal in the Catholic church if we needed to make a modern day example of his position .So many would consider him a very holy person, and a godly man who was very righteous. Speaking to this he writes this in Philippians 3:4-6 “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
3:5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
3:6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
In other words he is saying if you think you are righteous, holy or godly, I am more than you. So if anyone is going to live a godly life it would be him, right…? Wrong. He writes in Rom 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Even though he is the holy roller, he cannot stop doing things he doesn’t want to do, and can’t do the things he wants to do. Why is that? Well, because he is a sinner. I know, you are thinking how can I call such a good man a sinner?
You see,we are not considered sinners because we have sinned, but rather we are sinners because we have a sinful nature. Therefore we cannot help ourselves but to sin. This is the whole reason for the law, it is not to try and uphold every law (commandment) given, rather it was given to expose our sin nature. To prove this point let’s look at when Moses was being given the 10 commandments. The first two being: Thou shalt not have any other gods before me, or make any carved image. These are the very first commandments, and while they were being given on top of Mt Sinai, the Israelites were at the bottom of the mountain making a golden calf to worship. God couldn’t even get the words out before they already failed at it. Another verse that speaks of our sinful nature is this: Rom 3:10-12 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Not even you, you righteous church goer lest you become self righteous and start thinking you are better than anyone else. Going back to Philippians, Paul doesn’t end his thought by giving us his wonderful resume of how awesome and godly he is, he continues with this.
Php 3:7 “ But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
That word rubbish is translated into dung or crap. In other words all of those titles and positions he has he compares it to crap. Not only is he saying it is useless or worthless, he is saying it is actually repulsive and disgusting. This is where I think many of us are missing the boat. We think our crap doesn’t stink, and that we are somehow more holy, worthy, righteous and better than others, say homosexuals. I think Paul gets it, he understands that his high position means nothing. He knows he is a sinner by nature, he knows he is no different than anyone else when it comes to this. That is why he gives us his resume. In case someone thinks he is more godly than him. You are not going to outdo Paul in following the Law and he still says it is all crap. It is all crap that is, compared to the surpassing worth in Jesus Christ. He finishes his thought with this,
Php 3:9 “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” He understands that the only righteousness he has comes through faith in Christ Not by following the Law or commandments Therefore neither should we think ourselves righteous or better than anyone else no matter how good you think you are. Because our righteousness does not come from what we do, how good we think we are, because we are all sinners, Rom 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Last I checked all means all.
If our righteousness is not by our own doing, but only through Christ than what gives us the right to think we are better than or more righteous than anyone else. I think this is a big idea to wrap our heads around. You are no better than anyone, you are not holier than the worst sinner, you and I are the worst sinner. Again all means all, you are no different than the person you are judging, if you are a Christian the only difference is the righteousness of Christ in you. It is not until we see our goodness and self righteousness as crap, that we can only begin to judge others.
Part 2 will deal with how I believe the church should respond to and treat homosexuals in a biblical context.