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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer

Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do We Care Enough To Speak Up?

Sometimes we have to take a step back and ask ourselves, what are our priorities? Too often however, the answer we give is not necessarily what we are living. We say that our eternal salvation and our spiritual life are most important, but we live otherwise, as if this world, our lives in this world and what happens in this world are most important. As a pastor, I have a tendency to focus on the “big” picture of eternal salvation. Quite frankly, our sixty, eighty or a hundred years in this world is nothing compared to our forever eternity in heaven (or hell). Thus, often I have to ask hard questions and deal with difficult situations which run with our societal norms, but counter to the Word of God. And too often in those instances the people who tell us they love us attack God’s messenger rather than actually caring enough to help those who are living other than godly lives to repent and seek forgiveness.

Shifting gears a bit, and you may have heard this illustration before: Mrs. Smith passed out a new box of crayons to all the children in the class. She told them to be careful, to not push too hard so they would not break their new crayons. As the class began coloring, little Johnny pushed too hard and broke his crayon. A little later Mrs. Smith told the children to put their broken crayons on their desk. Little Johnny, not wanting to get into trouble, placed the bottom part of his crayon in the box and the top part on top. No one would be the wiser he thought.

A little later Mrs. Smith came around the classroom, picked up the broken crayons and gave the children new crayons. All the children received new crayons except little Johnny who refused a new crayon by not confessing that he had broken his crayon. The same is true with forgiveness, when we fail to confess our sins, we refuse God’s forgiveness.

Now, if Mrs. Smith had begun by telling the students that she was going to give them new crayons for broken crayons, little Johnny may have been motivated to confess that he had broken his crayon. Here we see that repentance is motivated, not by the law, but by the Gospel. It is the Gospel message that we have forgiveness, already earned by Jesus that motivates us to repent. And with repentance is forgiveness, life and salvation.

This illustration helps to identify how sin, repentance and forgiveness are meted out in two different ways and helps us to understand that although all sin is equal in God’s eyes, that is equally damnable and equally forgivable, our eternal spiritual well being is made certain or kept in jeopardy by the fact that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and we reject God’s forgiveness.

An alcoholic, a person living a homosexual lifestyle, a couple living together without the benefit of marriage are all cases of sin, much like any other sin. All these sins are forgivable in and of themselves. We daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness. We daily confess our sins, which means we tell God we are sorry and we will try, with His help, to not sin again. Of course we do sin again, but the point is we are trying to not sin again. However, for an alcoholic, a person living a homosexual lifestyle, a couple living together without the benefit of marriage to continue to live such a lifestyle says that there is no repentance and with no repentance there is only refusal of forgiveness, meaning their sin remains on them putting their eternal well being in jeopardy, which is why such sins are so grievous. We can also say the same for people who hold grudges, who refuse to be reconciled with others, those who hold any animosity for another and refuse to reconcile. Indeed, none of these should even entertain the idea of attending the Lord’s Supper for that only compounds their sin. The loving thing to do is to help those we know who refuse forgiveness, calling them to repentance. When such sinners are called to account, we love them best, not by attacking the one who truly cares for their souls, the one who confronts them with their sin and its seriousness, but by also addressing their need to repent which includes turning from that sin and trying, with God’s help, to not commit that same sin again.

The question is, “Do we care enough to speak up?” or do we follow the norms of society because we really care more to be liked than we care for another’s spiritual well being?

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