Response to “Christian, what’s your point?” By John Pavlovitz

Response to “Christian, what’s your point?” By John Pavlovitz

http://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/06/07/christian-whats-point/

I feel like the Christian could just deflect and ask this person to be fair and look at the other faiths and ask the same thing. But, as a Christian, I believe that ultimately Truth comes from God, and I believe that the God of the Christian Scriptures is the One that doles out that Truth. SO, we should be held to a higher accountability. So I won’t ask that. (Not really at least, I do understand I technically asked it a second ago!)
What I will do is attempt to offer some answers, the answers that my specific life lives when rubbing up against the specific lives of others. 


Christian…
My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus, His life – death – resurrection and promise to return again at the appropriate (in His eyes) time. It’s not (necessarily) built on tradition, though it IS informed by it. Christ is my lynchpin of faith, for without Him my faith is foolishness and I, above others, should be pitied for my confusion. 
My hope is built upon a Word that has been tried and tested and has been found to be a strong foundation. It is a Word written by man, carried along in the Spirit. It has been saved from corruption, in its original manuscript. It tells the story of a real people. It tells that story using human literary style (poem, exposition, narration, genealogy, letter, proverb, songs, metaphor, etc) and all of it relative to its cultural context. 
I believe that this faith, juxtaposed and related to ALL others shows full Truth. Weighing the veracity of the world’s faiths I believe that this one, which centers on not what we can do for us, but what Christ has already completed on our behalf is a much more beautiful picture of salvation. We are not on a scale that weighs our good and bad throughout life, and where we fall at the end will determine an outcome of some sort (Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism – to the degree that it is a religion and not a philosophy – and so many others). It’s not the worship of elemental or natural gods like the many, many historical (and modern) pagans of Ancient Greece, Rome, Celts, Cherokee, Canaanites, Japanese, etc). 

I worship the Triune God of all things. The preexisting One. The Creator, Sustainer, and Consummator of all creation from the past to now and into eternity. He is not stars or earth, because He made them. He is not the thunder or rain because He controls them. He is not turned away (ultimately) because you do more good things (in His eyes) than bad throughout your life. He is not found in intense meditation. Or in the ramblings of vain preachers. He isn’t found in the darkness, because He is light, and in Him is no darkness (or variation) at all. 
This Triune God is the epitome of relationship. As He has had a perfect relationship within Himself since far before the dawn of creation, He continues it to this day, and He will maintain it unto eternity. This relationship was to be displayed in His ultimate creation and reflection of His character – man. Man is the image bearer of this True God. 

That image was marred in our first sin. Because sin, and fallenness, is real. It isn’t a tool to control. It isn’t a lie to control. It isn’t self deprecating to feel somehow good about ourselves. It also isn’t manmade to push down and oppress certain people. It is established  in Scriptures, can be seen (through that light) in the areas of science, and is pretty obvious if you’ve ever had kids or interacted with human beings at all. Sin broke the connection, which leads us back to Christ’s sufficiency and the hope we trust in. 
Finally, I believe in the tradition of historical, orthodox, and reformed Christianity. Founded in OT & NT. Perfected in Christ and His actions. Continued by the apostolic church. Preserved in the canon until the Reformation. Brought along in the Spirit to prevent bastardization from original manuscripts. Translated overtime to come to us in English. My faith is reformed, and ever reforming. It find Truth in the God of Scripture alone, in the power of Christ alone, through grace alone, by faith alone, and only to glorify the Triune God alone. 


What’s your point…?

What’s my point? What’s my point for prefacing a response with that? Well, in a broken world with many false narratives – I wanted to establish where I came from. Where I came from helps explain where my live intersects others. 
Those above listed points, Mr. Pavlovitz, lead me to three main life choices (lead, bring me to, allow me the freedom, oblige me). 


1. Treat all mankind as image bearers of the God they may or may not know. 

Every man, woman, and child I come in contact with bears the image of our Creator.  They may not know Him. They may hate Him. They may hate His Church. They may hate me. That doesn’t change the fact that we are called to treat them with respect and love them as our neighbor. As an image bearer they deserve respect. They deserve love. But they also deserve Truth. 

Do I do this perfectly? Well… no. Of course not. But my life that I live is reflecting this desire more everyday. I curse people sometimes, or curse at them. I engage in gossip and other things. And when I do, I tear into that image. It doesn’t make the rest of my life worthless as a Christian, just shows that I am still growing. 

My desire to treat everyone in love and care, and in Truth, I hope, shows up in everything I do. If I can live a specific life that reflects this Truth into others’ specific lives, I’m on the right path. 
2. Treat sin as sin. But do so with care, compassion, relationship, and distinction

Calling a spade a spade. If it quacks and walks like a duck, it must be a duck. Call it as you see it. All these adages fall apart somewhere, but they have a bit of truth too. As Christians we know that the whole world is fallen. From myself, to my family, the church members, to nature itself. It is all perverted. Something just isn’t right with everything. That thing is sin. It pervades every inch of creation. It is why we lie, cheat, steal, kill, commit sinful sexual acts, covet what we don’t have, and seek to usurp the Creator from His rightful place. 

Now, I could Bible thump. As many have before me. I could tell you how terrible you are, and how much you need a savior – mine in particular. But that violates the first thing I mentioned. I, you, we are image bearers of the aforementioned Triune God. He is in constant relationship. So, when He speaks, He speaks out of a place of relation and connection. 

If I want to have any shot of sharing my relationship with Christ with you I need to begin by having a relationship with you. How can I expect you to even begin listening to me in your troubled times, or jubilant times if I haven’t invested in creating a real relationship with you?? If I don’t, then yes, I will be bible thumping. I will be criticizing. I will be, honestly, hating you. And it is not ours to hate. 

As a Christian I am to love. Love everyone. Love my brothers and sisters, in Christ. But that’s just the thing. I love you in Christ. As Christ loved. And eventually. When we have a true, loving, deep relationship – I love like the woman at the well felt love. A love that stings, but like when you pour alcohol on a wound. It stings because the healing has begun. I am not the One who heals, but I may be the only Christ you see. So I will be damn sure that you see Him in His beauty, radiance, love, Truth, and justice. 
3. Trust that God is in control of our lives. 

I do not change your heart, for I did not change mine (remember the grace and faith alone). As an omniscient and omnipotent God, He alone changes hearts. Those who He called will hear His voice. I should be so lucky to be a part of that journey. But in the end it is my job to simply display His truth in my life. 

You can hate or love me. But ultimately God will judge me. You will find that to be true too someday. But I pray that my relationship with you will cause you pause. Will cause you to ask me why I act the way I do. Will cause you to call me out when I act in opposition to the faith I proport to have. God is in control, I will not “bring you to faith.” But I pray that my actions, my words, my life will cause you to want to know more. 

More about this faith that is different from the media portrayed Christians. Different from the big time names who seem to glimmer but fade at the same time. Different from the way you were taught to see Christians. Different from other faiths. And I will tell you about this Jesus who I cling to for my life. 

This post is like scratching the surface of my faith in an eternal God who wants to know you, and maybe it piques your interest to just hear more of what I think or have to say. Maybe you write it off as just another regurgitation of “what I’ve been told.” Or maybe you agree with me but couldn’t formulate the words. Maybe you have different thoughts all together. In any case, I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading, and I hope it wasn’t too terrible to get through! 

Blessings,

David

My response to “Why I Can’t Say ‘Love the Sin/Hate the Sin’ Anymore”

“Christian” can mean many different things when spoken by people. But that doesn’t mean they are all right. In fact, it is not even incorrect to say that one person can be right. That being said, the “most right” person doesn’t actually have everything right. That being said, I am implying that I am not completely right. I can say that I have had training and education in these matters, and have taken them to heart, studying multiple points of view, and have come the conclusions found in this post. 

The article I am going to be quoting from is : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/micah-j-murray/why-i-cant-say-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-anymore_b_4521519.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

It was an interesting article. Murray made some valid points, and yet also needs to be clear about certain aspects. This also proved to be a great chance for me to “think online” (rather than out-loud).

Let me first say this: the Church over the past century (though, to be honest, there have been huge oversights since its inception) has really dropped the ball on how they approach public sin. Witch hunts, slavery, race/gender equality. Then you have the active&passive approach to “internal sin,” or sin committed by “believers.” Extra-marital affairs, gambling, alcoholism, pedophilia… the list could go on and on. So, how can a church (notice the lower case c) like that possibly call out other sin?? This seems to be the tone of the aforementioned article.

This article is by no means a bad one, with only emotional rhetoric. It has very poignant points, and a decent message. But theologically, it is quite flawed. Murray rightly points out that for far too long the “Christian church” (again lower case) has screwed up mightily in how to deal with sin, in general – let alone specific sins. There has always been some sin that was “too much to bear.” Yet, let us look at Scripture:

  • Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God
  • Isaiah 64:6 – even our righteous deeds are like nasty, filthy, menstrual rags (a more accurate Hebrew translation)
  • Galatians 5:19-20 – “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.”

Paul ends that passage saying that such people will not enter God’s kingdom. Yes, God does choose to elect some to reprobation – to damnation. But look at that list of sin – which is just one of many in the OT/NT. It covers just about everything! There is not just one sin that is considered heinous enough to deny you entrance to heaven. At least not one that man considers terrible. All sin is sin. You sin, no entering heaven for you, regardless of how man sees the action. (There is one sin: to blaspheme the Holy Spirit. But that speaks to a much more serious grievance. That is for another time.)

So, back to the article. He wants to make it clear that he loves the person who does X sin. Of course, because of the cultural climate that sin is homosexuality. Murray wants the supposed reader to see that he still loves them regardless of what Christians may think. It just seems like he overcompensates.

“He could have said “You’re a sinner, but I love you anyways.” But she knew she was a sinner.” The thing is, Jesus always allows the sin to be made plain. BUT he made a great point, that He wouldn’t allow Himself to join in on pushing someone already put down any further. Murray truly does hit the nail on the head there.

My biggest frustration is his emotional reaction to a very emotionally driven issue. The homosexual issue in this world, is one of sin. If we as Christians are to compromise on what is true in this world – we will lose this world… even more than we already are. Now, with that said I would never mean to say put the sinner down, or ostracize them, or hate them… no… never that… that is the exact opposite of Christ. Now, I also want to be clear that I dont have the answer… and I know that I dont have the answer. I can say this though… I sin daily… all the time… too much. But I know that I do…

I have to say though, you do have to hate the sin. Sin is bad. It is lawlessness (1John3:4). You have to reject the sin in your life, and repent from it. Do a complete 180* – see sin as God sees sin. That is to say, see it as it is – evil, terrible, wrong, destructive, and eternally disruptive.  And you do love the sinner. We are called to love everyone. Think about it, you love your friends… your family… nice people… kind people… etc… But we are called to love our enemies too. And if we align ourselves with Christ, His enemies are our enemies. And His enemies are those who work against Him – thus sinners. We still need to love sinners, but not to accept or love their sin. But you can be a sinner, yet be elect to eternity with Christ. That is to say, being saved in this life doesn’t mean you suddenly are perfect before God right now. That is why we have sanctification. You will fight your specific sin temptation until the day you die. But when you are in Christ each day that battle becomes easier, and His light in you grows stronger. Now, that isn’t to say that there aren’t times certain battles overtake you, and you retreat back into your sin. That will happen. But thanks be to God that His Son will come into that little cave where you try and keep your sin hidden – He will flip the switch (this cave has running electrical outlets) and brighten up the darkness. Then, at the end of your life, after all the fighting and becoming more sanctified, you are glorified and at the side of our Elder Brother.

So, with a final word: a call to any and all Christians reading this post. First, understand I have been trying to write this for like a week, working on the words to use – and I’ll admit that I got somewhat distracted as I wrote. SO, let me know if I need to clarify anything. Second, take something from Murray – do not ostracize the sinner. Love them, treat them as a human made in God’s image. Do not judge the non-Christian by Christian standards… that doesn’t make sense. BUT if you run into a Christian who lives drenched in sin – that is something we are called to oppose. So, to my friends and family who may read this – if I am living a life unworthy of the salvation I claim to cling to, call me out on it. Don’t let me live in filth because I look comfortable, or it would make you uncomfortable to tell me about the truth of my situation. That is the problem with Christians today, they are either all in (shunning the sinner) or all out (negating the sin). Let this post be an encouragement from both angles. And let us all exclaim with Paul when he said:

“Wretched man that I am, who can deliver me from this body of death? THanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Romans 7:24-25

{and really, if you are confused, let me know!}