Sunday, July 31, 2005

Jesus and Sin

I was reading through a gospel presentation... The first point it lists is to "establish universal sinfulness". That the person is a sinner and needs saving. Christians are well-known for condemnation.

Did Jesus condemn sinners? Consider Jesus in his actions toward the prostitutes, the tax collectors, etc. Is he ever once recorded as trying to convince them they were sinners? Far from it. It was the Pharisees, the religious leaders who were continually labelling such people as sinners - they kept saying to Jesus "why do you associate with such people?".

That is not too different to today. Today it is the religious leaders who say loudly that prostitution is wrong, that homosexuality is wrong. Our churches are enthusiastic in labelling and attacking sin. They lead the way in the condemnation of sin. And yet... that's what the religious leaders of Jesus' day were doing. Jesus never once joined in with them in condemnation: it was the religious leaders themselves that he condemned in response.

Everyone likes finding faults in others, attacking sin in others. It is an easy step for us to fall into... to focus on sin and condemnation. To say "you are wrong to do this, you are a sinner, that is sin" comes all to easily to human lips. It makes us the judge, we become condemners.

I have been told several times by enthusiastic evangelical speakers that everyone deep down knows they are sinners. Well, if indeed we believe that they already know that, why put effort into telling them? Why rub it in? Jesus didn't go to the prostitutes and tell them how they were sinners. We don't see in the New Testament a gospel of sin being preached. In each instance the preacher does their best to put as positive a spin as they can on the gospel. Consider Paul's sermon to the Athenians in Acts 17. We are told that Paul was horrified by the Athenians idol worship... so what does he say to them? He says that he can see that they are very religious people - he turns the negative into a positive quality and commends them for it.

Instead of focusing on building people up, and on the positives of the gospel, like we see happening in the New Testament we seem to focus on the negatives and try to grind people's noses into the dirt. Instead of being Jesus to the prostitutes we are the Pharisees, condemning the women caught in adultery, condemning sin left right and center. It's so easy, it's natural, and we enjoy doing it. Jesus spent a large proportion of his time attacking the religious leaders over their condemnations of sinners... I'm inclined to wonder if the best medicene for the church today wouldn't be a modern day Jesus.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good commnetary.
I like your vision, and agree.

Gary

2/8/05  
Blogger Scott said...

There's a big difference between Christians being nasty towards people, and having the compassion to tell them the truth about their rebellion. There's a difference between being proud, and hating sin. Difference between being condemnatory, and saying 'Go and sin no more'.

In this quote from the gospel of John, Jesus is implying that the woman was indeed a sinner. It was his approach that was tempered by grace.

I think we should be careful to accurately depict Jesus' response to sin, instead of blanketing it with positivitity. I don't think that is accurate. The Acts 17 sermon also contains a God who commands people to repent of their ignorance of him, and threatens the final judgement of God.

2/8/05  
Blogger Dan said...

So Jesus saw the money-changers in the temple and thought to himself "Oh dear, I really must think of a way I can tell those guys that what they are doing is sinful - but I really don't want to upset them or hurt their feelings."?

And here's me thinking he drove them out with a whip, turning over their tables as he went.

10/8/05  
Blogger Andrew said...

Yeah, he was condemnatory to the point of physical violence against misconduct on the part of the religious authorities that was approved by them. Yet he apparently acted with nothing but compassion toward those people that the religious authorities were condemning for immorality.

10/8/05  

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