Monday, December 30, 2013

Grace and Truth...

Week 1:

John 8:9-11 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Note:  This is the longest and quite possibly the most difficult article I have written.

I have been following the Phil Robertson story over his comments he made in a recent magazine interview.  As many know, Phil quoted the Bible when answering a question about what he thought about homosexuality.  He was removed from future episodes of Duck Dynasty by the A & E Network where the show is aired.  He was re-instated due to pressure from both Christians and advocates of Freedom of Speech.  I have really wrestled with whether or not to blog over this topic or not.  In fact, I even have had dreams around this issue over the last few days.  I took that as a prompt to write on the issue.  I realize that with this topic, I will both offend some readers and make other readers happy that the subject is being talked about again.  Do recognize, I have views based on what I read in the scriptures, and I am trying to live my life by those scriptures daily as I also attempt to give grace like Jesus did and does.  I fail miserably daily, yet I have the blood of Jesus to cover me.

Let’s start with a brief summary of how this controversy occurred.  I read the GQ article (you can read it here; Beware!  The writer is from a very secular background; writing for a very worldly magazine…the language is strong at times).  GQ decides they want an interview with Phil Robertson.  These days, many do.  Now, this writer is admittedly not a believer in Christ.  And, he even adds in some poking fun of Christianity in his article.   Yet, he is drawn in by Phil and in my opinion the Holy Spirit within Phil.  He asks Phil a question around the sinfulness of our country and Phil gives first some personal opinion about his beliefs (and yes, it was somewhat crude and unfiltered).  Then Phil begins to quote scripture.  All throughout this exchange, Phil speaks of grace, how it’s not his place to judge…but God’s, and how all can benefit from a life in Christ.  GLAAD, probably the largest homosexual advocacy group takes much of the article out of context and begins asking for Phil’s head on a platter.  This eventually leads to Phil’s dismissal from the show and subsequent re-instatement.  Both due to political pressure and I believe a fear of losing money.

So, here is where multiple thoughts come up for me.  I hope that in some way this makes sense and ultimately God’s truth comes forth.  First of all, Biblical truth does not make total sense to those who use it as just part of their box of truths.  Many in this culture quote Jesus’ teaching alongside many other considered wise sayings.  There are many who choose to use what they want out of Jesus’ teachings and discard the rest.  This includes the churched and non-churched both.  Jesus preached, practiced, and/or lived grace and truth…both.  Over the last few years there has been a great debate among believers and non-believers alike on whether homosexuality is sinful.  As I read many opinions about this, I notice people quote part of the above passage dealing with the woman caught in adultery leaving out the rest.  The quote is, “Then neither do I condemn you,” (Grace) and the left out part is, Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’” (Truth).  Phil not only quoted truth from the Bible, he also talked about grace and how important it is.  In other articles, Phil has talked about loving all (including gays) and letting scripture and Jesus do the rest.  Many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus would show grace and speak truth.  He directed on more than one occasion after healing someone to leave his/her sin. 

This leads me to the second point.  We as Christians will rarely, if ever, draw those in sin closer to Jesus without relationship.  Quite honestly, Phil’s quotes only strengthen those of faith and push further away those who argue against faith and Christianity.  Until those who oppose my view of the Bible walk alongside me and see me live out what I believe…and…I look into someone else’s life and see where he/she is coming from, I will not be living the grace of Jesus and therefore will not draw them closer to truth.  We had a preacher who described how the modern western Church has tried to convert people:  We call them to behave, and then believe, and then they can belong.  This is actually pushing people away.  Those who feel strong anger toward Phil’s comments and with Christianity as a whole have likely experienced Church this way.  When you look at Jesus, he helped them feel a sense of belonging, then they believed, and out of that belief, they began to behave differently.  I have strong opinions about certain sins.  When I just blast those opinions as if I’m trying to win a debate without first considering the relationship I have with those I am working with, I usually send them the other way.  A sometimes over used quote sums this up well.  “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  Jesus started with love and grace and spoke truth from there.  We have to get away from a “Preach and they’ll show up” mentality and move to a “Create a loving relationship first.  Then preach.” 

A third thought may be a little out there…bear with me.  Basically, we are Gentiles.  The children of Israel had thousands of years of history with God as His chosen people.  The woman caught in adultery knew she was in sin if not for any other reason than a nation’s history with God.  The Pharisees, although misguided, knew God’s law.  Yes, we are a nation founded on Christian principles, yet we as Gentiles basically only have a 2000 year history with God.  We are only God’s chosen through Jesus.  What does this mean?  For many in our society, there still is not a history with God like the people of Israel.  The Bible does not make sense to many and even becomes a book of do’s and don’ts.  A challenge for us, for me, is how do I take the Gospel of truth to a group who are skeptical of the Bible or don’t even think the Bible to be truth?  I noticed one of the comments to the GQ article saying:  Personally, I don't understand how anyone can believe in the Bible or God. It's all a made-up fairytale, and if you can't see that, then you need to do some serious research into the subject. The Bible was written by mere mortals who really didn't know very much about the world. And there is not one shred of proof that God even exists. After all, if you were born in a different country, there's a good chance you would be worshiping another God altogether. God is just something man created to try to make sense of where he came from and where he will go when he dies. It's just incredibly sad that in these United States, we are still so backwards and can't see the truth. And it's very sad that we are still using quotes from the Bible as an excuse to ruin the lives of good and decent people based on who they love.”  To reach someone in this mindset is a difficult task.  It is a daunting task to break through barriers to truth.  Next week, I will touch on those barriers to truth.  I don’t want to give excuse, but reaching those who believe there is no God and is backed by a history of no personal God in their lives is something I as a Christian have to consider as I approach them with grace and truth.

Fourth, what about the sin of homosexuality?  As I read the whole of the Bible, it is one of many sins that God inspired His writers to list.  What is worth noting is that it is a sin like many other sins.  Sin is missing the mark of God’s holiness.  There is no sin in God.  He did not create sin; humankind chose sin when we decided we knew better than God how to live.  God allows us to have choice so that our love and worship of Him is real and not forced.  Homosexuality is listed with several sins.  In God’s eyes, sin is sin.  Phil noted this in the article.  The leaders of GLAAD took offense upon reading that Phil had placed the sin amongst terrorism and the like.  Sin is sin.  I know there are those that say that one can continue in his/her sin due to grace.  Like Phil, only God can judge.  However, I choose to try and eradicate as much sin from my life as I can based on the Apostle Paul’s quote in Romans 6:1-3: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  I struggle with those who continue to live in a sin claiming grace and/or that God created me this way.  It’s my opinion.  It’s an opinion based on my limited knowledge of the Word.  Yet, that is where I stand.  I hold myself to that standard as I attempt to lead others under that same standard.  Does this mean that I condemn those in my life who choose to live in their homosexuality claiming God’s grace?  No, I am not able to condemn.  Only God can judge the heart.  I must continue to love them even if I disagree with them and hopefully, out of that love, they will see the Holy Spirit of God and find the love of Jesus.  At this point, those of my readers who do not have a relationship with me may be offended by my belief and opinion.  Those who do know me; know I speak from love and years of study.  And, these are not years of study in order to point out sin in others.  These are years of study in order to be convicted of my own sin and in some way better my relationship with God through Jesus.

As far as the Robertsons and Duck Dynasty is concerned.  I struggle between hoping they would leave A & E and hoping they stay.  I hope they leave because of so much of what the network stands for is so ungodly and to have a group of believers be associated with that is difficult for me.  However, I also realize that the Robertsons are using what God has opened them up to as a platform to further the Gospel and the love of Jesus.  All along Phil has used this avenue to preach the good news of Jesus.  And for those who have developed a relationship with Phil and his family due to the show have not regretted what Jesus has done for them through this family.  God’s plan will prevail whether or not Phil, or I, or anyone else joins Him. 


1. Write down what has come up for you emotionally around the above article?

2. How do you personally categorize sin?

3. What did you think of Phil’s stance?

4. What changes do you need to make in your life to live a belong, believe, behave style of drawing people to Jesus?

5. Over the next few days and months, pay attention to how you handle others sinfulness. How are you going to improve your relationship in order to live out the Gospel before their eyes?

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