Does the church best represent God by establishing firm rules or guidelines by which to live or does the church best represent God by using God’s word as a foundation and then addressing each situation as unique?
As people who attempt to live in a manner pleasing to God, we are often confronted with situations that have no outcome that would seem to be pleasing or good to God or to us. It is easy to give foundational answers when I am not the one with the decision to make, not so easy when I am directly impacted.
A Christian couple is in a doctor’s office. The doctor has just informed them that the twins she is about to give birth to are having problems. If she does not abort one of the children, then both will die. How does the church respond? Do we demand that they not perform the abortion and wait and see if God will save them both? Death is an imminent threat no matter the decision. How does the church best love this couple?
A married gay couple enters a church that believes that homosexual acts are sinful. How does this church respond to this couple? If the church asks them to leave, are they representing Jesus’ love for them? If the church refuses to allow this couple to seek Jesus with them, then who is worthy to join them? Will they accept the adulterer but not the homosexual? Whose sexual sin is worse? If they would deny both then how are those who do not know Jesus supposed to find Him?
This same married gay couple is allowed to participate with a church that believes that homosexual acts are sinful. They also have a daughter they have adopted. They have grown to love the church and Jesus since they have joined. They are now seeking the church’s guidance regarding their relationship as they know the church disapproves. Should they divorce? What happens with the daughter if they end their relationship?
As a pastor I am at times faced with decisions that seem to depend on determining the lesser of two evils. Attempting to make such decisions is nearly impossible because how can I choose any evil?
I recognize that at times the consequences of past sins and actions remain with us for a lifetime. Sometimes it is impossible to remove it. But we must acknowledge that even though it isn’t a part of God’s plan for our life, that the love of Jesus can overcome it and use it to glorify Him. It isn’t by our actions or decisions that we are cleansed from our actions it is only because Jesus took on our sins for us and purifies us that we are made clean. I believe that Jesus can do that even with the consequences of sin that remain. It isn’t that the consequence is removed, but that we purify it by giving Jesus authority over everything in our life.
You may believe that you have done something that makes it impossible for you to be saved. You may have been told by a church that you are not welcomed. You may think that you have no value. I am here to tell you that you are wrong. There is nothing you have done that Jesus is unable to purify. There may still be consequences and life may still be hard, but that is where the church comes in. A healthy church is one that will welcome you in and invite you to follow Jesus. A healthy church is one that first seeks to reveal Jesus to you, before focusing on what must change. I believe it is impossible to change, without first giving Jesus permission to change you. A healthy church will then hold you accountable and mentor you. They won’t run when you fail. They will reach out and hold you and work to help you have the strength and courage to let Jesus work in your life. A church isn’t just a place where you sing about God and listen to sermons. A church is a group of people who are willing to sacrifice on your behalf and walk the path with you. A true church is willing to suffer with you as you grow and learn how to follow Jesus.
Life is not easy and it doesn’t follow rules very well. In every action we take, may we give God the authority to guide us and permission to fix it, if we don’t get it right. May our lives be a living testimony of the loving sacrifice that Jesus gave for us.
Pastor Kyle Borger
Torrington Church of the Nazarene