Pastor Matt Chandler recently gave a seminar on Homosexuality and Culture and made a very interesting point that transcends the topic at hand. He briefly joked that one reason he is of the reformed persuasion, is simply due to the fact that people came to know Christ in the 80s and 90s.
As Pastor Matt noted, the 80s and 90s were a time when the church, unintentionally perhaps, focused more on high morals than the interior condition of the person. The focus for discipleship was often to train people not to do “bad things,” i.e. drinking, smoking, dare to say “no” to drugs, no to sex, no to secular music, etc. Rather than shepherding the heart of the young, many of us grew up with a yoke of rules and regulations that seemed to determine the state of our righteousness. The result seems to be a contingency of people in their 20’s and early 30’s who are very aware of what “good” Christians do and don’t do, believe God is real, but are less aware of the grace, goodness, mercy, and love of Jesus. We begin to wrap ourselves around these characteristics of Christ, when we come to terms with our own penchant for sin and recognize that we will never really be able to keep the “law” without the power of grace. It is upon this realization that we can rest in grace and begin to live life and sin less. Rather than being enslaved in our sin, we are set free by Christ and can participate in confession with our savior to enjoy new mercies and brand new beginnings every morning.
I wonder when we see our believing friends and loved ones who encounter seasons where they or others around them are struggling with sin, when we are struggling with our own sin to the point where we doubt God’s very presence, do we focus on the sin and the poor behavior more than we do the opportunity for repentance? If one has repented and yet still struggles, do we continue to focus on the bad behavior to the detriment of the power available with repentance? Do we put people off until they clean up their act or do we continue to tarry with them until they see victory?
All major spiritual movements in our culture have an element of sin that is addressed. However only Jesus offers the opportunity for repentance, forgiveness, mercy and grace. Not only does He offer us all of this, He offers it freely. We don’t have to do anything. It doesn’t matter how good or bad we have been. So if we are followers of Jesus, why do we not focus enough on the greatest thing He offers us, the one thing that leads us to being set apart?
“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
– Romans 10: 9-13