I've had multiple people ask me in the last few days how I can go to church and listen to church leaders when I have such different views of the world than them. Naturally, this is even more prevalent now because of the election. My response is always that same, I intend to take the good I can get from a church service, and let go of the parts I disagree with. It's taken me months to be able to do this with any level of success and I still fail often. For example, I had to walk out of prayer/intercession last night.
I've been spending a lot of time reading the Bible, reading books by Christian authors, listening to sermons and then of course adding my biased view of the world on top of all of it. I struggle immensely with how often someone will argue with me about "literal" interpretations of a Bible passage, and then they turn around and say the passage I respond with isn't meant to be taken literally. My question always being, "who determined that?"
I'm a very black and white person. I've been told I am black and white to a fault; I've also been told multiple times I'm a robot. If you want to talk about literal interpretations of the Bible I am all for it, but you don't get to pick and choose which pieces are literal. It's all or nothing.
One thing I have yet to have anyone argue with me about is Matthew 22:37-40
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Most agree that you should Love God and love each other. If you do a quick search of churches in your area and look at their mission statement, I would guess 100% of them have at least one of these two in their mission and 70% have both.
Love God and love each other. These are the two greatest commandments.
One fight I never back down from is the argument of "sexual immorality" for those literal Bible readers, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 is pretty straight forward "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality" Matthew 5:30 also says "And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut if off and throw it away" I've been to 6 churches in the last 11 months and every person I've met has both hands. Be careful with those literal interpretations.
However, that's besides the fact. My argument to church-goers that say being gay is a sin is simply this, do you believe telling someone who they are is a sin, is loving that person? Do you think telling someone that because they love someone of the same gender, they are sinning, is loving that person?
To be honest, I've never had someone directly answer this question, they usually go off on some other tangent. Additionally, I am certain some would say "yes, I am loving that person." My assumption is many do think this is an act of love. If the "sinner" continues down this path, they won't get to Heaven. Therefore, by intervening they will have a better opportunity to get to Heaven and this is, in fact, an act of love.
To that I have to ask, where in the Bible does it tell us we should stop one another from sinning? That we should create laws that make it more difficult for them to experience something you believe to be a sin in hopes that that roadblock makes them question if they should continue?
I haven't found anything in the Bible telling me to stop others from sinning (please correct me). Galatians 6:1 says, "keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted" (i.e. mind your own business.)
James 4:17 says, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin"
1 Peter 4:8 says, "Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins"
I realize I am now belaboring the point. The Bible is clear, we should love God and love each other. Not love each other if we agree, not love each other if we vote the same, not if we believe in the same God; we should love each other. Even my worst enemy was made beautifully and perfectly by God.
This is a two way street. It's easy for me to call people out for stepping out of bounds and trying to stop others from sinning when they have their own issues to handle at home. It's harder for me to look at those people I vehemently disagree with and say "I love you because you are a child of God"
Ultimately, we all need to take a good long look at ourselves. Every single one of us a sinner Roman 3:10 says, "As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;"
Stop worrying about how the person next to you is sinning. That is between them and God; just as my sins are between me and God.
I'll end with this, 1 Corinthians 13:2-3 says "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I posses to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."
In Crazy Love Francis Chan reminds us what God means by "love"
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."1 Corinthians 13:4-8
We've all heard this verse numerous times. Chan challenges us to take the word love, and substitute it with your name (example, "Sarah is patient")
If we are meant to be love, and God defines love in the above verse, can you say you are love?
To be honest, I sure can't.