Dear Church Family and Friends,
I can’t imagine what it must be like to stand a quarter of a mile above the earth, supported by nothing but a 2-inch steel cable, but there are times I do feel a little bit like Nik Wallenda. Sometimes, preaching and ministry is like walking a tight rope – the whole Christian life, in fact, is one of balance. But there’s nothing quite like trying to find the balance between hatred and tolerance.
Whether we are talking about homosexual marriage, illegal immigration, or the spread of Islam, the challenges of today’s culture demand a response. Indeed, no response is a response, and the opinions spurted by politicians, pundits, and preachers can make us feel like we have to choose a side. And regardless of which side we choose, we will be labeled and lambasted by the other. Conservative, traditionalist, liberal, and progressive all lose their lexical meanings as they are uttered with such venom that an outside observer would think that our country is populated by only two kinds of people: those who hate America and those who hate their fellow Americans.
That’s why I am amazed by Joshua’s late-night encounter with the captain of the Lord’s army on the eve of Jericho’s defeat. (read Joshua 5:13) With the battle on his mind, Joshua was startled to find an armed warrior meeting him in the darkness. The natural question was, “Are you with us or against us.” The supernatural answer was, “No.” He had come to do the Lord’s work. Only one side: God’s.
That’s why Jesus came. He did not tolerate the legalism of the religious leaders, the immorality of the prostitutes, or the thuggery of the Romans. But he did not hate them either. Oh, I know that God can hate sin and sinners (Psalm 5:5), but he can also love them in spite of their sin. And Jesus did…and does. He loves them so much that he died and rose again so that they might be freed from their sin, through repentance and faith in his name. And there’s the balance.
God’s redeeming love is what we are called to express to all. We do not shut our eyes to sin, but we do not shut the sinner out. Unbelievers may not understand this, but we can and must love the vilest of sinners without agreeing with their sin. Our love comes with an agenda because we’ve chosen a different side: God’s.
For His glory and your joy,
Talk to me. What examples have you seen? What challenges have you experienced? How can we live this out?