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Sinning Sinners

I've posted before on this thought process somewhere over the past three or four years, but it's something on my mind today. That's amazing in itself, since there's really not any room for any "extra" thoughts in my head this week with all that's going on. It's an idea that it's so much easier to say "hate the sin, love the sinner", than it is to live that out, since we tend to "hate the sinner", too, and mess up the whole system by our lack of grace.

I've actually got writer's block, and am trying to tackle this subject to work through it. Basically, we're good at judging others, but bad at discerning in our own lives what's right and what's wrong. I know what I believe, and I know I'm doing the best I can. And even when I make a mistake, I know my heart was in the right place, right? But looking at someone else who's sinning and making their own mistakes - I can be so quick to point the finger and shame them with the guilt of my judgment. We want to "share the truth in love" and tell them about how that sin will condemn them to eternal hellfire - and sometimes, maybe it's just me, but sometimes we actually like it, that we can be so right and that sinning sinner can be so wrong.

Jonah had this problem, and I hate that I can identify with him so easily. He knew he was a wonderful preacher and prophet, and he knew he could go into Ninevah and preach up a storm. But knowing his obvious talents, he knew the city's people would be convicted and repent, and then God would do something silly like FORGIVE THEM and WITHHOLD HIS WRATH. He was actually getting angry at God, knowing his own abilities and the way God would respond to their conviction. So he said no, left on a ship, and eventually found himself praying in a loud voice - HHHEEEELLLPPPP - from inside seafood.

We want to tell others they are wrong, and while we want to "see them saved", we also want to watch them get what they deserve. Where's the mercy? Where's the love? Where's the acceptance in spite of our shortcomings? We want mercy for self and judgment for others, and never the twain shall meet.


Anonymous Rebecca said...

wow Rick, feel like I've the conversation of this post numerous times over the past two weeks. Being on a fairly legalistic Bible college campus I see where you're coming from-seen, experienced, and unfortunately practiced it too. It's interesting to see how in some places there is such a huge move for biblical community and vulnerability-but to counter act that there is also such a huge movement of calling out sin not out of love and missing the true depths of accountability and biblical community-end soapbox

27/9/05 10:30 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

It's funny that my thoughts are in the same place this week. For example, why is it that we have turned "hate the sin, love the sinner" into "condemn the sinner- in love"?

The story of the adulterous woman the people were going to stone comes to mind.

Or another question: Why is it that Jesus hung out with "tax collectors and 'sinners" so freely, and was hesitant about fellowshiping with the Pharisees?

Continue this line of blogging if you can, I'm curious to see what comes of it.

28/9/05 12:11 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

i'll keep posting on these lines - we're in this together, and anything that brings division over unity needs to at least be addressed, doesn't it? :)

28/9/05 9:34 AM  
Blogger Tana_Schott said...

It's interesting, I was talking to a woman who mentioned a few times to me that she was concerned that in the book, Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller's church was going to start accepting people who have alternative lifestyles. I'm going to have a book discussion about this whole book because there is a lot in there that is interesting and thought provoking. You should come! But regarding that point of view - I wanted to ask her (but didn't b/c I was chicken), "What would be wrong with homosexuals attending church?". I'd LOVE it if people with alternative lifestyles felt comfortable enough with Christians to come to church. Now, to make myself clear, I am not condoning "alternative lifestyle" behavior. I'm not suggesting that the church should accept such pratices. However, I do think that the church needs to be a little less black and white in how we deal with people and learn to accept the people in spite of their practices. Make sense? I think it's a problem we all have. While I may not have issues with homosexuality (meaning I don't allow it to interfere with my ability to have a relationship with people), I have my own "sin issues" that I choose to allow to get in the way of me loving people. We all need to really consider what our individual "issues" are. Is it divorcees? People who have premarital sex? Drug users? What would stop me from loving/helping someone?

29/9/05 3:55 PM  

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