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How to approach your brother

The sermon for this topic can be heard here. Read the rest of this entry

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Everybody needs to repent

Yesterday’s blog took an approach to the question of Homosexuality as a sin by pointing out that it isn’t the only sin out there and rejecting one sin does no good unless we reject all sins. Today I simply want to expand on the idea of sin and repentance in general and make sure that we don’t miss the point of repentance.

To repent is take an action which moves you away from a previous course or thought process towards a different one. To describe it as a U-turn or a turn about or doing a 180 are all ways of looking at repentance. Many things can cause a person to repent.

Some people repent because of social pressure. They take a stand and find out that no one is willing to walk with them so they change their mind. As a child, I made many such stands and eventually (in most cases) repented and started walking a path that was more in line with what my parents wanted.  In the heat of the moment a repentance may occur but really, it is the long-lasting results of that repentance that we need to be concerned about.

Some people repent because of new knowledge. There is nothing quite like the words “you have cancer” to make a person change a lot of things in their life. Smoking, drinking, bad food and such will many times go out the window in view of the new reality that has just been thrust upon them.

There may be more reasons to repent but those two really make up the basic reasons. In the church they work pretty good too. Social pressure can be applied to encourage a way-ward brother to change his life. I Corinthians 5 discusses a brother engaged in a particular sin—-that of having his father’s wife.  The withdrawal process that Paul discusses was for his own good, as well as that of the congregation. It seems that it worked if I read 2 Corinthians 2 correctly because Paul is encouraging them to accept him back.

A new reality will also help. When one realizes that they have sinned and (if you will excuse the term) sinned really badly, they are very happy to take advantage of the relief that comes from being in Christ. Peter preached an excellent sermon and reached the hearts of those people on Pentecost. They saw the new reality and wanted to know what to do. Peter told them and you might not be surprised: REPENT.

In this case, i would say that the repentance was a changing of mind about who this man Jesus is. Accept that He is the Christ.

Repentance, of course, is not a one time thing. One can determine that Jesus is the Lord and wish to follow him but you will need to keep repenting of things and thoughts that are not appropriate. In this world, there is a lot to be repentant of too!

One key element of repentance is humility. When one accepts the reality and then the path that this reality places upon them, there is a humility that can be seen.  Why do we not watch movies that are R rated for sexually explicit (or just sexual content period) and all sorts of violence and language? Why do we turn off the TV or even the commercials when Lingerie commercials come on. There is one commercial where everyone at a soccer game starts stripping down and I still don’t know what they are selling because I change the channel.

May I encourage you to do the same thing?

Here are some things that we should repent of, or at least consider if we need to repent of them.

Our use of time (Do we engage in regular Bible reading with the idea that God wants to talk to us? Do we pray as we ought and as often as we ought? Do we visit others like we should?)

Our use of money (Do we look at it as a means to promote the Gospel or to make ourselves feel or look better to ourselves or others? Do we envy those who have a lot of  money w/o really know either how they got the money or how they use it? Do make plans with it for the future or simply spend it on the here  and now?)

Our entertainment (Do we go along to get along? Will we turn down an invitation to a party that we know will be wild (define that how you will)? Do we have 500 movie channels and flip through, watching shows that we would never go pay at a theater for? )

Mostly when you think of what you can repent of it will be in the area of time, money or thought (in this case I put entertainment in the area of thought)

Three steps for knowing what to repent of:

1. Determine to do what is right no matter what.

2. Learn what is right.

3. Act on it. (Sometimes this is instantaneous and sometimes we need to make sure we understand everything properly before acting)

Jesus is not a homophobe

I just could not resist writing about this story I saw.  Here is a  link to a story where a 16 year old high school student is suing for the right to wear a shirt which says “Jesus is not a homophobe”. There seems to be a controversy over the issue. Maybe he will win, maybe he won’t but I have a few things to say about this:

First, the young man is a brave individual. Regardless of what many people might say publicly, I still think that the vast majority is more uncomfortable with the homosexual lifestyle than comfortable with it. So for that reason I will give him the due of his courage to stand up for what he thinks is correct. In this country we value, or we say that we value, the freedom of speech.

Second, the young man is correct. Jesus is not a homophobe. In fact, Jesus loves the homosexual just as he does the heterosexual. To Jesus both are created in the image of God, have an eternal soul and if they believe in the Son of God, God will grant to them too the right to become sons of God.

Christians are not to be homophobes. This is also just as true. The fulfilling of the Great commandments of Loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself cannot be fulfilled if you have hatred toward the homosexuals of this world.

Of course it helps to define the terms we are using here. To be homophobic according to an online dictionary search says that it is “to fear or to hate homosexuals”. If it were only that simple; however, there is more to it than that. We also need to be very aware of what this young man is saying, it isn’t just that Jesus does not hate homosexuals but that Jesus tolerates homosexual behavior. He wants to be accepted and accepted as he is.  Well, Jesus does save us “Just as I am” but he doesn’t want any of us to stay there but to become more like the I AM so that that song reads better “he saved me as I was”.  Can you grow in Christ and be a practicing homosexual?

To answer that question, there are somethings that I will point out where this young man is wrong.

First, there are not “lots” of religions who “accept gay people””:  I would ask him to name the ones that do. I think he would have a hard time doing so unless he resorted to looking some denominations who claim to be a Christian church who do and in that case, there are at least several groups that would indeed accept a homosexual. Of course, what he means really is that there are groups that will accept someone as a Christian and allow them to practice the homosexual lifestyle. Key word: PRACTICE as in participate in it.

Second, he may not realize this but Jesus does not love sin: We have to acknowledge this premise even before we even ask the question about whether homosexuality is a sin or not. This is the virtue that we add to our faith. If we accept that Jesus does not love sin, then we will also not love sin.  As we add knowledge to our lives we will see what is and what is not a sin.  Our view on this must be the same as Jesus’. Sin is an abomination to him. What is sin? Sin is missing the mark, sin is lawlessness, sin is not living the way God (who does all things in love) tells us we should live. So what constitutes sin?

What about heterosexuality? Sometimes! Make sure you read that correctly. I am talking about Hetero not HOMO sexuality. Is practicing sexual behaviors as a Heterosexual not a sin when two people who are not married engage in sexual behavior? When both are single we call it fornication, when one or both are married, we call it adultery, when it is forced on another we call it rape.

While we do frown on rape, most people are quite tolerant even supportive of heterosexual activity outside of marriage. We have friends who live together, we support TV shows with live-in couples and cheer for our favorite one. We want Amy to break up with Casey because she really belongs with Mark. And unless soap operas have changed in the last 20 years, everyone gets married to everyone else regardless of age differences or prior marriages (my former step father and I just got married after he divorced my mother…sigh! I cor 5 no longer applies even to the Gentiles)

So here is the point I am getting at. Yes, we know that the Scriptures teach to love all sinners but the scriptures also teach that all who come to Christ need to stop practicing their sins.  If you want acceptance in the body of Christ you cannot, must not, shall not, continue to practice sin. Look at this list of sins the Corinthians were guilty of. Only one sin mentioned is of homosexuality, many others are listed.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1Co 6:9-11)

Should the thief say “Well, I will not accept the practicing homosexual but I should still be allowed to steal?” Then neither can the homosexual say “I will not accept the drunkard but should still be allowed to practice homosexuality” All are to abandon their sinful ways!

Maybe this young man would support the wearing of a shirt that said “Jesus doesn’t hate the homosexual but wants him (and all sinners) to repent” After all, we just want to be accepted too. But our acceptance is an acceptance into the Kingdom of God. If this young man truly wants to be accepted and comforted, he needs to come to Jesus, not on his terms but on the Lord’s terms. However, that is the way it is for all of us.

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