Better fat than gay

I recently heard a pastor open his sermon with a lighthearted comment about his sin of overeating at Thanksgiving. The crowd chuckled and nodded approvingly. Most had committed the same sin, but knew that their sin was ok because they are under grace and not under law. Later in the same sermon the pastor commented that when we buy coffee at Starbucks we are “supporting homosexual laws”. The crowd shook their heads in disgust. This was not a sin they had committed, and they knew the Bible is very clear about homosexuality. It is an abomination and must be stopped in its tracks. It doesn’t matter that gluttony makes the deadly sins Top Seven, nor that according to the CDC, 36% of Americans are obese, nor that “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.” Gluttony is funny and understandable, homosexuality is evil and should be illegal.

I am not arguing for either gluttony or homosexuality. There are multiple scriptures about each, you can look it up for yourself. My question is how do we decide? How do we decide that “their” sin is evil while “our” sin is no big deal? As Scot McKnight says in The Blue Parakeet, we all pick and choose, the question is which sinner we choose to laugh off and which sinner we choose to condemn.

It is interesting how little time Jesus spent trying to change Roman law to deal with gluttons or homosexuals (both of which seemed to be rampant in Jesus’ day), and how much he focused on things like removing my eye-logs before picking a speck out of my neighbors eye. Would Jesus have reacted differently if the woman caught in adultery had been a man caught in bed with another man. (“He’s a homosexual? Well that’s different, hand me a stone.”)

We often quote the truism, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner”, but we seldom apply it evenly. Some sins, my sins, I hate just a little bit. Your sin I hate a little more. Other sins, the sins I will never commit, I hate enough that my hate spills out on the sinner, the sinner’s friends and anyone who associates with the sinner. We say we love the sinner but we continually do and say things that scream out to the one who commits the unacceptable sins, “You do not belong. You are vile and filthy and not worthy.” If we do not think that is the message we are sending maybe we should ask the sinner what they think.

Jesus seemed to come from a different angle. He did not shy away from calling out sin, but He loved sinners so much that religious people often accused him of being a sinner. He loved sinners so much that he ate with gluttons and drunks and prostitutes and maybe even homosexuals.  He loved sinners so much that he believed that love, extreme radical irrational love, covered a multitude of their sins. He loved sinners so much that he was willing to be beaten, ridiculed and nailed to a cross where he died for them.

He loved this arrogant, gluttonous, lust-filled sinner so much that he died for me. And for you. And for the sinner of whom you and I don’t approve.

Perhaps instead of making statements and passing laws and boycotting stores, the most potent way we can combat “their” sin is to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor, our fat, gay, alcoholic, porn-addicted neighbor as our self.

I have a dark secret: I like Christians

Geoff Surratt

I know this isn’t very trendy or culturally relevant or even missional for a pastor to admit, but I like Christians. I really do. I am ashamed to admit it, but Christians are some of my favorite people. Now there are definitely Christians I’m not too fond of, and Christians certainly have their flaws and blind spots, but as a tribe I feel a lot of affinity for them.

Part of this is because I was raised by Christians around Christians. And while they probably didn’t do it right, most of them really loved Jesus. They did things that were culturally insensitive and created rules that were downright silly (we could watch tv but not go to movies, we could play Rook but not poker), but at the end of the day they had the same question I struggle with; How do I live out the Gospel in the context of my generation?

Don’t get me wrong, I like non-Christians as well, and I understand the need to spend significant time getting to know them. Where I struggle is the statement I hear from pastors, “I’d rather be with non-Christians than Christians. At least they’re not pretending to be something they’re not.” That hasn’t been my experience. I have found non-Christians to be at least as arrogant, hypocritical and shallow as Christians, they just use Jesus name in a different context.

Here’s my point, and I do have one, I don’t think we have to dislike Christians in order to reach those who do not follow Christ. In fact Jesus said one of the most attractive things about his followers is the love they have for one another. And Jesus seemed to really enjoy hanging around Christ followers. (That’s an attempt at humor. Forgive me if its corny, everyone knows Christians aren’t funny)  I think a church can focus on helping Christians grow in their faith AND be a missional beacon in their community. And I think its ok once in a while to have a gathering where Christians enjoy being Christians with Christians. That’s kind of what happened in the upper room in Acts 2, isn’t it?

So there you have it, I’m a Christian lover. Stone me.