1 Corinthians 6:9

“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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)”

Sadly, I must confess, before coming to Christ I was guilty of more of these sins than I like to admit. I was guilty of quite a few of them. When you consider idolatry (the making of anything in your life a higher priority than God), that any sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality, and that divorce, biblically, is adultery, this passage has convicted a great majority of people in the Body of Christ at some point in our past. Further, according to this passage, not one of these sins is more condemnable than another. Sadly, some of us treat these sins as if one were worse than all the rest. These sins are equal according to this passage. Others of us don’t want these acts labeled as sins at all. Still the Word of God says what it says, and regardless of anyone’s heart in the issue, Christ followers are subject to the authority of the Bible. I myself have stood alongside every person guilty of any of these acts as a sinner unworthy of God’s love. I recognize that on my own I am no different. I do not hold myself in higher regard than ANYONE, and as the Apostle Paul said, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” What I want to express is that by my belief in the Bible and my love for Christ I do not hate anyone nor do I believe I have any more right to Christ, or life and liberty for that mattter, than anyone else. People who know me, know my heart in this matter, and my LGBT friends can attest to the depth of our relationships and the genuine love and compassion that we share for one another. At the end of the day, what I know most clearly is that we are all sinners and all desperately need Jesus. That is the only message I’m called to deliver.

The good news, I found, and that I want to extend to everyone, is that immediately following the passage above (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) is verse 11: “And such were some of you [members of the Corinthian church]. 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.”

What verse 11 illustrates is that many members of the Corinthian church, were formerly idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers, etc., and they were all worshiping and serving together in the church, and accepted and loved by God. They were people who were saved and sanctified by Christ. Maybe all of the sin I’ve committed makes me more compassionate. I don’t know. Christ says, “he who is forgiven little loves little.” Maybe that means “he who is forgiven much loves much.” Perhaps that’s me. But perhaps that should also be all Christians. The Bible is clear that no people, on their own merit, are worthy of God. But the Bible is also clear God’s love and saving grace are available to anyone who would take hold of them and look to the cross. Every last one of us are sinners in need of the savior Jesus Christ. Not one of us in the Church is at liberty to deny anyone access to the cross or the gift of repentance. We are not called to badger, or hate, or condemn anyone, but to be light in the world. Our calling is to be like Christ, to engage, love and embrace sinners, to encourage all people to receive the gospel, and to help every person develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. We must understand that the sanctification of individuals is not our work, but is the progressive work of God in the hearts of each person as we engage Christ in His Word. My hope is simply that we would all bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Be kind, love people, point them to Jesus, and let God work.

Nonbelief is Not a Failure to Believe in God, but in Depravity – Just a Thought

The more I talk about Christ with others the more I’m made acutely aware that our society’s hang up with faith is not at all a failure to believe in God. Nearly all people acknowledge, or are at least open to, the existence of God. Where our culture stumbles is in believing in personal depravity. We can all recognize that we have fallen far short of perfection, that we sometimes make poor choices, and that we sometimes hurt others. But we refuse (and adamantly do not want) to believe that these imperfect and hurtful actions are sins, that they are wicked, and that place us in rebellion to God. By failing to believe that our own wicked decisions and actions have placed us at odds with our creator, we can see no need for salvation, and no necessity for a Savior.

Render Unto God What is God’s!

No this post is not about tithing!  Fear not!  And for those of you who know this passage, I’m not going to talk about paying taxes either!   Sweet relief, right?   This is an examination of Christ’s response to the questioning by the Pharisees who attempt to trap him in Matthew 22.  They asked Him:

“Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

It’s important to understand that both Roman soldiers and Jews were present, and the Roman Tax on the Jews was a highly controversial issue at this time.  The Romans were taxing the Jews as much as 80% of their household income.  People were being arrested, impoverished, and dying as a result of this tax.  If Jesus were to instruct that the Jews should not pay taxes, the Roman Soldiers would have had cause to arrest Him.  At the same time, the Jews were highly vexed by this situation, and these taxes were being used to fund the army that was enforcing the oppressive rule of Rome over them.  If Christ simply instructed the Jews to pay the Roman tax, they would have turned on Him.

 18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.[c]

20 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…”

It has been discussed ad nauseum that Christ says here that we should pay our taxes.  Given.  What I would like to draw your attention to is the coin.  Specifically the image on the coin and its implication.  The coin was created by Caesar, and his image is what gave the coin its value.  By the image and inscription on the coin it was not simply a piece of metal, but was made and marked specifically in such a way that all would see that this coin had a specific purpose, a designated value, and belonged to the man whose image it beared.  Christ was not terribly concerned with the money, or with Caesar’s desire to take the money back from the Jews.  (Christ of course knows that The Father provides what is necessary for His children.)  But…what is more important is what Christ said next.

 “…render unto God the things that are God’s.”

What is he talking about here?  What are the “things that are God’s?”  Brothers and sisters, you and I were created in the image of God.  We bear His image.  He has placed his inscription on us.  “Imago Dei” – in Latin, translated – “Image of God.”

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).

If the image of Caesar on a denarius gives it such value, how much more value then does the bearing of God’s image place upon His children?  This is what Christ is communicating here.  The tax, and money in general, are not important.  What is important is that you are God’s.  You were created by Him, and you are valuable to Him.  He expects you to return to Him.  “Render unto God what is God’s.”