Thursday, January 9, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 20: The Sinner in all of us

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 20, January 9, 2014
Readings: Psalm 19, Genesis 19, 1 Chronicles 21:18-30, 1 Chronicles 22:1-19 Luke 12:13-48

I have never struggled with writing something as much as I have writing this. Even now, I want to stop writing, put away the Word, or write about something else. But I can't. And so I will write, and it will probably be inflammatory, and painful, and challenging. So I pray, as David did:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

 Let me begin with a statement:

God hates sin.

There it is. I said it. God hates sin. All of it. Every single type of sin, God detests it. Loathes it. Wants to rid it from the earth. And have no doubt, He will do so in His time. He will judge the earth, and every person will have to atone for what they have done. But amidst all this talk of sin, and depravity, of judging and judgement, or throwing stones, very seldom is the question asked:

Why does God hate sin?

God hates sin because it destroys everything it touches. At it's core, sin destroys relationships. The first sin demonstrates this perfectly - Adam and Eve were separated from God. Their relationship was broken. And because of this sin, and all the trillions of sins committed since, relationships have been continually destroyed. Lives broken.

And sadly, we have taken God's hatred of sin and turned it into a right to judge. To condemn. To cast out. And that is the exact opposite of what God does for us. Instead of closing the doors of heaven, they have been opened, and God's own Son sent to redeem mankind. God could have easily cast us out, cast us aside, and been done with us. We have taken the statement "Love the sinner, hate the sin" and turned it into "Label the sinner, hate only other people's sin."

Friends, we are all sinners. "There is no one righteous, no, not one." "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."The Bible is full of passages detailing various sins - and many of them are not something we rail at from the pulpit, or chastise on Facebook, or have rallies about. Why? because we are guilty. All of us. And if we were willing to be honest, open and truthful, we would see that we are just as messed up as the popular outcasts of our church - the homosexuals, the prostitutes, the unbeliever.

At this moment, this sounds quite bleak. In the last few days, I have read of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, David's distrust of God and the subsequent plague set upon Israel, the religiosity and works-based judgement of the Pharisees, and the gluttony of the rich man who said "relax, eat, drink and be merry." But there is good news. There is the gospel.

Jesus came to save us all from our sin. He didn't come so that the "lesser" sinners, could convert the "greater" sinners, the homosexuals, the prostitutes and everyone else we condemn. No. He came for everyone, because each and every one of us needs Jesus in ways we can't fathom. I can't do it alone. And neither can you. And the great news is, Jesus also gave us each other. He gave us a community, and a family of believers whose sole purpose is to love one another into the greatness that is God's redemptive plan for us.

And that purpose is the second commandment - to love your neighbor as yourself. I know that I sure as heck wouldn't want my sins paraded about in front of the church - but I would want brothers and sisters to surround me, support me, and help me overcome sin. I wouldn't want to be someone's project, but I would want to be loved with a genuine love. I would want restoration of my relationship with God and others.

That, friends, is God's purpose for the Church. The restoration of all things to Him. All sinners. All brokenness. All relationships. Restored. We shouldn't speak of reaching out to a particular group of sinners, we should be reaching out to all people, because all people are sinners. All people need His love. His gospel. His truth. A restorative relationship with the God of the universe. A relationship where sin is destroyed.

God hates sin. God loves the sinners. All of us. Are we willing to love like brothers and sisters? Are we willing to collapse to our knees and beg God to forgive us of our superior attitude, our pride and wickedness?

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