Sunday, January 20, 2019

Don't make a way for sin

For just a moment, think about what it means to be in "common relationship" with others. We have a variety of 'common relationship' experiences in life. As we drive down the freeway to our destination, we have the 'common relationship' of being motorists on the roadway. As we nurse ill patients back to health, we have a 'common relationship' of being that momentary caregiver administering medications, dressing wounds, and helping them feel safe. As we sit in the theater with our best friend, all the others there are in 'common relationship' with us - seeing the big screen come to life and the picture capture our attention. Of all the 'common relationships' we can explore, there is none as rewarding or captivating as that of our common relationship with Jesus Christ!

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. [ In Christ’s Family ] In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises. (Galatians 3:26-28 MSG)

Many will find it hard to think that we can all be in 'common relationship' with one another just because we are in 'common relationship' with Jesus Christ. Why? There have arisen all manner of denominational walls that divide us, setting one against another, causing us to create opinions and judgments about each other. While I am quick to admit that not all 'denominations' are really that different, there are some who oppose things others approve and vice versa. Here is the cold, hard truth, my friends - IN CHRIST JESUS we are brought into common relationship with one another, but WE can drift away from that place of "common relationship" simply by making inaccurate judgments about what sin is/is not, what attire is holy/unholy, or even if tattoos are 'honorable' or dishonorable' to a body. 

I am not naive - there are definite differences in our beliefs - some have veered far from what scripture clearly 'allows' or provides us directive about as to our behavior. Some differences are perfectly harmless - such as choosing elaborate church buildings or 'open', more versatile buildings in which to meet. Some differences are quite harmful to the message of Christ's grace - such as embracing what God has clearly described as things he disapproves of, or worse, absolutely abhors. Whenever we veer into this latter territory, we are choosing to no longer align our beliefs to the Word of God and the grace pathway established via Christ's sacrificial death on the cross. To say there is any other way into relationship with God except through Christ is clearly taking us out of "common relationship". To say Christ is "one way" to realize heaven's glory is clearly not what God said in his Word.

There are indeed differences that mark us out as unique from one another - some like loud music, others like hymns and melodic harmony; some will encourage us to look our best in church meetings, while others will tell us to come and be comfortable. These aren't differences we should worry about, my friends. We would do well to look at the things that take us out of 'common relationship' with Christ - such as accepting what God has clearly defined as sin. Yes, we embrace the sinner, but we don't make a way for the sinner to continue in their sin! We provide a means for them to leave that sin and enter into this common relationship with Christ. That was always God's plan - for us to leave our sin and to enter in. Just sayin!