I think that all Jesus wants is to give us eternal life so we can spend it with him. I think all he wants is to love us. No matter what. I think that he came to the world to save it, to save us, from death. That’s all. And what began in the garden, what began with sin, was death. There’s no escaping this, because although Christ came to save the world, and although he succeeded, we did not suddenly become perfect. But we do get to have a choice now. We do get to choose him, if we want to.
It seems to me that a lot of people have forgotten the “if we want to” part. It seems to me that some people swing to the side of “you must choose him or you deserve to die.” As if they forget that we all deserve to die, whether we choose Christ or not. Because you do not suddenly become perfect or sinless just because you call yourself a Christian. Yes, your slate is wiped clean in his eyes, but he still knows you. He still knows the judgment in your heart.
In Matthew 18: 21-35, Jesus tells the story of a ruler who decides to collect on his debts. He calls a man before him who cannot repay him, and the man falls to his knees, begging for more time, begging not to be thrown in prison. The ruler has mercy on the man and forgives him of his debt completely. But then the man seeks out someone who owes him money, as if he has learned nothing, and demands the money be repaid. When the money is not repaid, he has him thrown in prison. When the ruler hears of this, he throws the first man in prison to be tortured until his debts are repaid.
Forgive as you have been forgiven.
I think a lot of us forget that we have been forgiven already. We forget about our sin as if it never existed, as if we had never done anything wrong, as if we had never been in debt, and then we try to force others to “turn or burn.” We tell people little one liners like, “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” HELLO! WE ARE SINNERS TOO!! All have sinned and deserve death. And all sin is equal, because all sin is deserving of death.
So we do things like telling someone, because they’re gay, they’re probably going to hell. No. Because they were born into an imperfect, sinful world, they might miss out on eternity with the Creator. And you telling them their lifestyle is wrong does not allow them to see the loving God you claim to serve. Who wants to follow a God who will not accept someone for who they are? I honestly don’t believe anyone wants to be gay. Nor do I believe anyone really wants to be straight. I think you just are gay. You just are straight. You just are short. You just are tall. You just are lanky. You just are stocky. You. Just. Are. I cannot make myself taller unless I add something that is not myself into the mix (tall shoes). I cannot make myself love a woman unless I pretend to be something I am not. Wearing high heels is masking who I really am. Someone pretending to be straight when they’re not would be masking who they really are.
Christ did not come so we could point out people’s differences, flaws, or downfalls. He did not say to Peter, “stop being so zealous and causing trouble,” he said, “follow me.” He did not say to Mary, “don’t sleep with so many people,” he said, “follow me.” Follow me. The rest will get figured out along the way.
I had a professor in college who told a story about when he first gave his life to Christ. He went to his pastor and said, “Well, now that I’m a Christian, does that mean I have to stop doing all these things,” and he listed off a bunch of “sins.” Because he didn’t want to stop. The pastor told him that he didn’t have to stop doing anything. It was more about what he started doing. He started spending time with his savior. He started serving more. He started worshipping. And a lot of those sins? He stopped doing them when he felt he needed to, when he felt led to, through his personal relationship with the Spirit.
That’s how I honestly believe God wants it to be. Not every person is the same, so what is “sinful” for one person might not be for someone else. Yeah, murder in cold blood is probably always a sin, and infidelity, and anything else that can hurt someone else. But having a few drinks? Loving someone of the same gender? Eating shellfish? Probably not across the board sinful.
Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” Paul equated himself with every other sinner, while we like to call him a saint. In fact, he put himself below everyone else, because he knew his sins, knew himself, better than he knew anyone else. Yes, he did his fair share of judging and calling people out. But you know who he was calling out and judging? Those who had already turned to Christ. He was calling out those in the Church! He wasn’t finding random strangers and telling them they were going to hell because they weren’t in the pews every Sunday.
Be like Paul. Be like Christ. And never forget who you are.