To answer this question we should first answer another question. Why were people drawn to Jesus? People flocked to Him, reached out to touch Him, walked miles to hear Him speak. Did He have a great program for children? Did He have a great choir? Did He have doctorate degree? Did He have a beautiful worship center? Did He have wealthy friends? Did He say what the religious groups wanted to hear? Of course these ideas are silly.
But Jesus loved people. He loved them as they were, full of selfishness and sin. He loved them for who they were—God’s unique creations. And He ordered us to do the same thing—to love people. And we do love people. But unfortunately we feel the need to change them and try to make them worthy of our love, of His love. We forget that none of us are worthy of His love.
We’ve been sold a false doctrine. We’ve been told that when we condemn the actions of people who are breaking God’s law (sinning) that we are standing up for our faith, defending God, protecting religious freedom, etc. But if we really look at Jesus’ ministry, we see that He loved people first, as they were.
But you ask, “How can we love the sinner and hate the sin?” We should do it like Christ did. He poured out His love on the lost, shed His blood for them. He only got upset with the sinners who supposedly loved and knew God. But he didn’t get angry at the lost people who were sinning. Not one word of judgment to the thief on the cross. No condemnation to the woman caught in adultery. He went to dinner at Zaccheus’ house.
But you say, “I do love people! I volunteer and give money to help the poor, etc.” Yes, we do love people when we look at them through Christ’s eyes as we always should. But when we categorize people, we don’t see them as individuals anymore—we don’t see them as people who deserve God’s love or our love. We see them as threats. Threats to our well-being. Threats to our religious liberty. Threats to our economy. Threats to our security. Threats to our family. Threats to our country. Notice the focus here? The focus is on us and our earthly comfort and security, not on God and His kingdom and helping others see His love for them.
Is it any wonder that our young people feel that we are hypocrites? Our children, who have grown up in relative wealth with the benefits of beautiful homes, cars, televisions, and every electronic gadget imaginable—these young people scoff when we say something about how illegal aliens are stealing free education and healthcare services. When we sit in the comfort of our air conditioned homes and complain about how much money is being wasted in the welfare system, how can our children take credibility in our words? Poor people loved Jesus, because He loved them. He didn’t sit back and judge them for being poor.
When we complain that our tax money is used to buy unnecessary items, our children remember that we have unnecessary luxuries as well. Why do we think that we deserve to waste money and the poor people do not? I believe it is because we feel that we have “earned” what we have. We forget that everything we have is by the grace of God. Everything we own is from Him and because of Him. He has every right to ask us to sell everything we own and give it to the poor. (Shudder! Please God, don’t ever ask me to do that! I promise to put a little extra in the offering plate and work an extra night at the homeless shelter!) If we truly realize that everything we own comes from Him and we didn’t earn it or deserve it, perhaps we would live in the smallest possible house, have very few clothes, and give as much of our money as possible to the sick and the poor. And if we did that, in Jesus name, and showered His love on people, they would come in droves, drawn by the same love that drew them to Christ when He walked the earth. And our children? Our children wouldn’t want to leave that kind of church, would they? I know mine wouldn’t.
Addendum: Just to be perfectly clear . . . These thoughts are not aimed at anyone other than me. If it hits you or anyone you know, it is only because we have something in common.