Yesterday I posted “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin – and other bogus statements“. There was some interesting comments about how we deal with sin. I thought I would give you some of my thoughts on this.
I would like to start by stating that I believe the statement “Love the sinner, hate the sin” has created a way we deal with sin within church circles that needs to be evaluated. We have a problem when we feel we need to defend the exposing and/or correcting of sin. You can see this when we feel we need to correct “sins” such as homosexuality, sexual fornication, addictions, and other things we can’t explain such as mental illness and disorders.
The tension with yesterday’s post is: what about correcting sinful behavior? What about the fact that Jesus not only loved people but also challenged them to “go and sin no more”? Aren’t we responsible to hold people accountable for their actions and call to attention that which needs correction? No. In dealing with “sin”, we often deal with the outward manifestations of sin – such as adultery, addiction, etc, but that’s not the “sin”. It’s only the manifestation. The problem when we confront, and ultimately shame the manifestation, is we can devestate the ones we seek to help.
It’s important to remember that “sin” (the word hamartes in Greek) actually means “to miss the mark”, not to break the rules. Sin is actually missing the identity and calling we were created to walk in. When dealing with someone’s “sin”, seek to guide them back to their identity as a son or daughter of God. The revelation of their identity opens their eyes to what these manifestations have been robbing them of. At this point, it’s not hard for a person to come to a life changing decision without telling them to change. We don’t need to shame actions, we need to call these precious ones back to their identity and let God do the deeper work.
I’d like to use the example of a drug dealer I have known for a few years to explain what I mean. We have had numerous conversations about his choice to deal. I have (hopefully compassionately) expressed my honest feelings towards his choice and he has admitted to realizing how wrong it is. There you have a gentle confrontation of the behavior and even a confession of its error – but no change as a result. This past weekend, I took my drug dealer friend to a church I trusted would embrace him. No words were even said to him before Holy Spirit moved in his heart with such impact that he left stating his commitment to leave his life of dealing and even wanting to sell his Benz and give away half his clothes to the poor. I was moved by his reaction to God’s moving on his heart that was clearly not conjured up by anyone calling out his sin or challenging him. I sat back in amazement and watched God do His thing. Three men at the end of the service gathered around my friend to speak words of life and blessing into his heart which only fuelled what was already happening inside. This was spectacular to observe as I have often wondered why we don’t see people willing to give up everything to follow Christ here in North America.
Jesus wasn’t shy to challenge those He loved and blessed to “go and sin no more” and to give up everything to follow Him. One thing I’ve noticed that was brought back to my remembrance this weekend, was that only God can stir that desire in someone through an personal encounter with Him – not with a confrontation. What I saw happen in my friend was breathtaking and freeing. I believe our role is to be willing to walk with the person in their journey. Anyone who has come to such a place of breakthrough will surely need a trustworthy friend who will stay by their side to guide them through some brave decisions and changes they have decided to make. No one can survive on their own. They need a loving community to surround them to support them – not to “should’ on them.
An amazing book I just read a few months ago on this subject is called Culture of Honor by Danny Silk. If you have questions around this very subject, check the book out. It’s a wonderful resource of how to restore lives without destroying them.
I would like to conclude with a statement from the book, “In the presence of sin, the Pharisees were afraid, but when Jesus was in the presence of sin, He was the solution, the remedy. He was powerful.” Are we afraid of sin or do we see the opportunity to restore a broken identity back to the Father?