Let me start by saying, I’m sorry. Please forgive me, in advance, should I anger any self-righteous Christians who might, by some unhappy circumstance, stumble over this article and actually read it. God help me if I nudge anyone to suicide by confronting them with sins they feel helpless to overcome.
Some Christians tell folks, even when they don’t ask, that Christ Jesus forgives them. He might not forgive other people, because their sins are too grave and, frankly, unforgivable. But as for their own sins, Jesus forgives them, they tell people.
I’ve seen a church-congregation change denominations, because they honestly felt that their denominational leaders didn’t sufficiently punish a pastor who married his daughter to another woman. A leader of this congregation wrote in a widely-read magazine that homosexuality was one of the worst sins a person could commit. The leader got into it, into the details of it, and it was scary to read. It scared me, let’s put it that way.
I don’t want to frighten anyone. My purpose here is to ask self-righteous people to look at themselves and their behavior for what it really is, and to encourage those who are sincere in their efforts to imitate Christ to examine themselves and make some winsome changes.
Why would I do this?
Well, I am a sinner myself, my family will tell you, and I have a lot to work on. I’m angry and judgmental, which are unsuitable traits for someone who walks with Christ, they say. I take solace from the fact that Saint Peter got angry, as did John the Baptist and some other Bible heroes. It’s something I’m working on, which is getting a lot easier now that I’m aging.
One thing I’ve learned over the forty-years I’ve depended on Christ to keep my head above water is that I am up-to-my-eyeballs in sin everyday. It takes a tremendous level of self-deception to even breathe, sometimes.
Other Christians I know seem to believe they have overcome many of their basest sins and are serving Christ effectively. I’ve never felt that way about myself, and sometimes wonder if I am heaven-material. Among the sins I’ve had victory over are my youthful propensity for sexual-sin and temper-tantrums. People will tell you I back-slide sometimes, but it’s been years. I’m better than I was.
I attribute my victories to old age and lowered levels of testosterone. Maybe I’m deluded. Maybe the Holy Spirit has worked some miracles in me. It doesn’t feel exactly like that, though. It feels like I may have lost some of what once made me feel like a man. Maybe it’s medicine. Old people like me take medicine everyday to keep going.
For some strange reason (sour-grapes?) I started asking myself a bunch of questions about activities many Christians do, often with enthusiasm and a clear conscience. I started asking myself: would the Christian heroes of the Bible do these things, if they lived now, in the United States or in other countries of the modern world?
Here is my list of questions:
1 – Would John the Baptist play the stock market?
2 – Would Saint Stephen buy lottery tickets?
3- Would Saint Paul take children to the firing-range?
4- Would Saint Peter live in a gated community?
5 – Would Jesus drive a Cadillac?
6 – Would the disciples self-medicate with tranquilizers and anti-depressants?
7 – Would John, the brother of Jesus, defend the Second Amendment, repeal Obama Care, build a border wall, and lower taxes on billiionaires?
Readers are invited to add other activities they might wonder about in the comments-section. There is no reason, really, to argue about whether the seven things in my list are sins. My point is simply that sin is not so easily described, but it is pervasive, and we all need help to deal with it.
Many people who commit sin rationalize it to keep themselves sane. Why not respect their process while providing a loving place to help them grow spiritually and serve Christ? Of course, no church does this well. At least none I know. Mistakes get made. People get hurt. Jesus forgives, teaches, and we move on.