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I used to be very concerned with making sure others' sin lists weren't too lengthy.

It was one of those tough moments when the air feels oppressive and you start to sweat.

A good friend sat across from me on my couch, fumbling with her rings. She had just broken the news to me: “I’m getting a divorce.” It felt weighty, even unbelievable. As she sat on my couch and poured her heart out about how terrible her husband was and how she wanted out of her marriage, I didn’t know what to say.

The ‘old Ruthie’ would have grabbed my Bible off the table and pointed to verses where God says divorce is a sin. I would have begged her to reconsider and rose up and shouted, “God hates divorce!” like I grew up hearing church people say. Three years ago, I would have made sure she understood from me what God felt about her considering this choice.

I used to be very concerned with fixing people, altering their behavior, making sure their sin list wasn’t too lengthy.

But now? I try to stake my flag in the camp of love.

On my couch that day, I could have made a point — but would I have made a difference?

Let me explain. One of my all-time favorite talks from Andy Stanley is “Separation of Church & Hate”.

In this sermon, Stanley shows how it’s easier to make a point; to adopt a policy; to put up a billboard or hand out a pamphlet. But making a difference is messier. It requires relating to people with whom we may not agree. But that is exactly what Jesus modeled.

Point-makers drive people away; difference-makers get down in the mud with hurting people.

It’s easy to quote a Bible verse, stay away from certain people, or be ‘against’ something — but making a difference in someone’s life — loving radically despite one’s choices — that’s the hard work. The work that makes all the difference.

I grew up in a family where it seemed we were against everything: gay people, the newspaper, television, even democrats and UGA football. Many churches get the reputation for being against certain sins, instead of being for, say, helping people in need or loving the broken.

I see too many living in almost paranoia about sin, and retreating to safe, little bubbles where we keep track of sin records and talk about accountability.

It comes naturally to give you five reasons why a certain behavior or lifestyle is wrong. But we can spend all our energy against behaviors, people and organizations, OR we can simply love. I’ve slowly learned the distinction between making a point and making a difference — and difference-makers are the ones who make relational evangelism work. People don’t want to become followers of Jesus when we make it look like a list of rules.

Ruthie Dean is a book marketer at Harper Collins Christian by day and a dreamer and writer by night. She and her mustache-enthusiast husband call Nashville home. Their relationship book, Real Men Don’t Text, will hit bookstores in September of 2013. You can read her blog www.ruthiedean.com and follow her on Twitter.

More from Ruthie Dean or visit Ruthie at http://ruthiedean.com/

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  • audie

    So, are we suppose to think that it is merely coincidental that this article is being posted on the week the Supreme Court is meeting to decide the California marriage vot and DOMA?
    And Andy Stanley was doing more than just not preaching against homosexuality, he was letting a couple engaging in homosexuality serve in his church. He was essentialy OKing their sexual immorality.

    • joshua2415sj3

      Do you know in what capacity they were serving? I guarantee you it wasn’t a position that would allow them to lead, more likely they served in the coffee shop or parking lot. That being said, where else could they go and feel a sense of belonging in order to facilitate a Godly influence on their lives? Why did people listen to Jesus? Because he fed them and loved them. He met them where they were and then shared the Truth so that they might change.

      • amos8

        “Why did people listen to Jesus? Because he fed them and loved them. He
        met them where they were and then shared the Truth so that they might
        change.”

        They listened to Jesus? How many truly listened (so that they truly changed and followed Him)? This was few and far between. Yes, He fed them and loved them … and they wanted to be around Him (because of temporal reasons). BUT they fled the moment He introduce the truth to them (Jn 6; Lk 4; “I tell you the truth…” and they were gone).

        When truth entered the picture they either stopped following Him, begged Him to leave, or tried to kill Him (and, no, these were not just “Pharisees,” some were even “Christ-followers” and “disciples”). Yes, a few followed (at least for a while), but how many “Christ-followers” were “following” Him at His crucifixion? How many left Him? (that were supposedly following Him)

        In addition, He did not always feed them, heal them, and love them (at least at first). He also STARTED with “Repent…” (Mk 1:15). Furthermore, His disciples priority (in the Acts and beyond) was “preaching” and “proclaiming” the gospel and “teaching the Word.” It was not feeding and social programs and changing society.

        Obviously there is nothing wrong with feeding and “loving,” (depending on definitions). etc. But it is not quite accurate to say this was or is the model … or that it some how works. Jesus always shared the truth (with or without feeding, etc). That is love. What this author (and what is becoming trendy) is to somehow minimize the truth so that, somehow, this will be more appealing. (I’m not saying you are saying that).

        • Dalia

          When I was in my late 20’s and living in sin, my christian friend loved me regardless. So I contined in my sin, thinking I was happy. And for a while I lived in my delusion. If only, if only, if only my friend had the fear of the Lord and had taken God’s word with all seriousness, many lives, including mine, would not have experienced heartache and shame. God is love. God is holy. He is long suffering. He also warns us. If we choose to soft peddle His mercy and grace in our lives and in others expect disastrous results. He will not be mocked. I would so much rather have a finger pointed at me in order to correct my ways. Judge me!!??? If it saves my life, please do!

      • Joshua Ostertag

        You might have a point there…but I would still challenge it in reference to a homosexual couple…
        One of the strength’s of The Church is that ‘sense of belonging’ you mentioned…it’s the reality that we are One Body and each individual members of that Body, but we’re all a apart of it…we belong because of what Christ has done to make us a part of it…that is, all of us who are “In the Faith”. That sense of belonging should not belong to those who are not yet “accepted in the Beloved”… it’s just not living truthfully with them and often gives them false assurance or minimizes the demands of the Gospel…
        Hopefully one day we will get back to being salt and light in our communities and seeing them saved there instead of getting them “into church” with the hope that they’ll find Christ there…our meetings together becoming a celebration of what Christ has done and IS, and a place of equipping believers for ministry…

    • Bette

      So, does this mean that sinners are not allowed to serve in church leadership positions? Are there certain “positions” that sinners are allowed to serve?

      • audie

        I and II Timothy and Titus are what are called the pastoral epistles. Take a look at them, to see what the qualifications for church leaders are.

        • Bette

          I have read these letters Audie, and the tone of your message implies I am unfamiliar with the requirements of church leadership in the first century. I am very familiar with the pastoral epistles. I am also aware that Paul wrote these letters to his two pastoral trainees, to aid them in their ministry with the churches they were commissioned to. Thank you for your comment.

          • audie

            You asked questions, I tried to supply an answer. If you are so familiar with what Paul’s pastoral epistles say, then why did you ask the questions?

          • Bette

            I am no longer following this conversation.

      • amos8

        Are there certain “positions” that sinners are NOT allowed to serve? What would you say those are? [please tell me you draw the line somewhere!]

        And if we “disqualify” someone from their position, but let another stay in their position, then what are we saying to the whole church? Why have any standards for serving if “we all sinners”?

    • Ruthie Dean

      Do you honestly expect Andy Stanley to make everyone who wants to help with the children’s ministry or park cars provide a list of sins? That would be slightly over-the-top. He doesn’t condone homosexuality, but he also doesn’t make out it be the worst sin like people think that it is!

      • audie

        Really? A man is openly living with another man, and you think it’s ok for him to service in church in any way at all? By all means, welcome him, so he can hear the Gospel and repent. But by your logic, Paul was wrong for scolding the Corinthians for allowing in the church a man who had married his own father’s widow. Since the man in question had been a part of the church, and had left his wife and children to live with his gay lover, I don’t think it would be too much to say that Stanley should have done like Paul told the Corinthians to do, expel him from the church until he repents of his actions.

        • amos8

          Don’t be bringing “Scripture” into this … or logic for that matter. That’s so … so hateful! You either say and do what is politically correct or, apparently it is “hate.”

  • MGM46

    I would say you have some good points. I would also say preach the word in season and out of season and not avoid subjects just because the wrong people might be in the audience. Loving people, Jesus certainly did, and in many cases He loved them by telling them the truth.

    While there are very good points in the article, compromise is certainly apparent, and it makes you wonder where you get your message from, Andy Stanly, or the Bible.

    • joshua2415sj3

      Jesus loved them by telling them the Truth at the right time, with the right spirit, in the right place. Waggling fingers and pointing out people’s iniquities the moment you meet them doesn’t draw them to God. Actually, it does the opposite.

      • MGM46

        I don’t believe anyone mentioned waggling fingers and jumping on them the moment you meet them, those are your words.

        My words are we cannot fail to preach the word for fear of offending some – the Gospel itself is offensive. We all know and understand that things have to be done in the right spirit and with a spirit of love.

        You would be pressed to find that any of the NT preachers failed to preach the word for fear.

        It just depends on who you will get your directions from – I think we all agree that our direction should come from The Lord, even if what some people tell us sounds good.

        • Dalia

          I agree with EVEYTHING you say because…you have a cat picture , and I LOVE cats!

  • Tim

    There is some real wisdom in this paradigm (making a difference is not always the same thing as making a point), and I am very grateful to read this article. It will affect my future ministry. However, the comments below offer some important correctives as well.

    “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” O Lord, lead us in your ways!

  • Joe Rhoads

    Yet another example of a person that doesn’t read the Bible. Yes, Jesus loved people. But He also repeatedly pointed out the sin in the lives of people. He exposed the disciples lack of faith. He even said to Peter, “Get behind Me Satan, for you do not have God’s interests, but man’s.” When we see, we are to point to the Scriptures, and say, “God says that it is sin.” And we are to get in the mud (to use the author’s terminology) to help them in their weakness. To show them the way out. I am tired of people who think that preachers who preach against, for example homosexuality, do so that can ostresize gays. We do it to teach the clear word of God, to let people know that it is a sin, and God hates that sin, but God so loved them that He gave Jesus to die for that sin (and the many others), so that they may repent of that sin and believe in Him and follow Him.

    • Ruthie Dean

      Hi Joe,

      I actually do read the Bible. Of course Jesus pointed out sin in the lives of people, but we take these actions out of context when we make that our entire message. If being a Christian means we’re against homosexuality, divorce, premarital sex, etc. then I think we’re missing the point.

      .

      • mkdb

        Again, so you are making a “point” (which is fine) but are condemning those who want to make a point (“point-makers” as you deemed them) … AND then don’t address this self-defeating notion?

        Then what is the point?

        • http://www.shaneyirene.com/ Shaney Irene

          There’s a HUGE difference between making a point and being a point-maker. Equating the two is like seeing someone eating a vegetable and calling them a vegetarian.

          Points can be made in love, but when making a point becomes the main concern, there is no love.

          • Ruthie Dean

            Thank you, Shaney. Love your comments here.

          • stanley

            I really appreciate your sharing about the need for the church to be sensitive to people in regards to sin in their lives. May I ask just a few questions that may lead us to consider a wider picture. Could I be that the church is adopting a worldview that is pushed on us by the political or LGBT agenda? Look at our neighbor, Canada and other western friends, Europe. How long do you think it will take the US to have a church that look like just the church in France, or in Germany–a lifeless church and outmoded and retrograde religion? I think our spiritual enemy is more clever than we are shrewd enough to pray. Our good behavior will not save the unsaved. Only Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, will make a difference–showing people the dimensions of the love of God (Eph 3:16-20).

          • amos8

            “Could I be that the church is adopting a worldview that is pushed on us by the political or LGBT agenda?”

            Yes

    • Marsha Smith

      Joe, your position and way of dealing with the “homosexual sin” problem has been the position the Western church has taken from the beginning of this “great debate”, so my question is, how has this been working out for us so far? Are we gaining ground or throwing mud? So far, we have managed to build a massive wall between the gay community and our churches that they want nothing to do with us. Because the Jesus we present to them looks more like us with all of our self-righteous finger pointing and our lists of do’s and don’t than the Jesus in the Bible who came to redeem and die for ALL people and ALL their sins and who loves them even while they are still lost in their sin, they have decided to have their own churches that most resembles their idea of what a Christian should look like and who Jesus is according to their understanding of scripture. Guess what, they are doing a better job of representing a loving Jesus and inclusive gospel than we have been. Even the secular non churched communities are siding with the homosexual community because we have become so arrogant and unloving in our responses towards the gay community the secular society preferes to stand with the gay community whose Jesus is more people loving than rule driven. I believe homosexual sex is sin just as any other sin is still sin, but my job isn’t to change them, my job is to love them, introduce them to Christ Jesus and help them grow in the word and in knowledge of God, it’s the Holy Sprit’s job to change them. Somehow we think, that once we know someone is gay and proclaiming to be Christian, it’s our job to jump right in and confront that sin… how about your sin? How about my sin? Shouldn’t we be dealing with those issues first and love passionatley in spite of my sin, your sin and their sin? Our old way of doing things hasn’t been working… lets try something else until we finally get it right and start advancing God’s Kingdom purposes in the lives of those we encounter.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ray.bingley Ray Bingley

        They want nothing to do with us, because they want to continue in sin, and if we don’t allow them to be what they want in the church, then they don’t want to come!! How can you expect to practice a lifestyle that is contrary to Gods word, and still be accepted!! Scripture says we MUST DENY OURSELVES! People don’t want to deny themselves, they want their cake, and to eat it too!!! You can’t serve both God, and satan!!

        • Marsha Smith

          Respectfully, your statement is partially correct.

          “They want nothing to do with us, because they want to continue in sin, and if we don’t allow them to be what they want in the church, then they don’t want to come!!”

          In truth, not all, not even most avoid us for that reason. From what we are hearing from them is that the Christians they are encountering are rude, obnoxious, hateful and downright hurtful towards them. If you don’t believe that we are behaving this way then look up other threads on this and other Christian blogs that talk about this subject and read through all the supposedly Christian comments about this subject and how they respond to other commenter’s who identify themselves as LGBT. This should not be. If we are supposed to be a reflection of God’s character, then most will tell you they want nothing to do with our God.

          We can be right AND ineffectual or we can be right AND be the salt and light that draws a lost world to desire knowing God in such a way that they are willing to seek Him and find Him even with the understand that finding and serving Him will cost them EVERYTHING!

          • Welly

            Hi Rev Mar, thanks for taking the time to express your take on the issue. I just wanted to share that Christianity has never been effective because of the perfection of Christian individuals. The kingdom of God never advances because of our wit or politically correct tactics. The kingdom of Satan never negotiates with us believers based on our good behavior. So I say good luck to those who think that refraining from calling sin out will help save sinners, and good luck to those who think that their acceptance of people will lead them to salvation. At the end of the day, it’s not how much believers loved on the unsaved that Jesus will require of them when they come into judgment. He is going to require their faith in Him for salvation. Nothing more, nothing less! I don’t understand either why we expect unbelievers to understanding that homosexuality is sin. Such a teaching is for the church and the saved not for the unsaved. Those who are in darkness need to be born again before they can choose good works. Good works will not save them. So why do we expect the world to agree with us. Our job as believers is a spiritual one. We find not against flesh and blood. Therefore, all the fight against the homosexual agenda is spiritually defeating. And I dare to say that our acceptance of their worldview into the church is even worse. It is high time for the church in America to wake up and fight the battle on their knees and ask God to grant repentance in the church and in the world because lack of repentance is a sign of God’s judgment on the world (see Rom 1). I think we’re only wasting our time when it comes to trying to not offend our unsaved/LGBT friends and expect that to tell them that the church is friendly to LGBT. I can’t see how we can biblically reconcile the dilemma of fighting a spiritual problem with natural weapons.

          • Marsha Smith

            Hello Welly,

            Thank You for responding to my comment.

            Actually I’m not proposing we be witty or politically correct, however I would rather teach Biblical truth in place of “calling sin out”. I don’t finger point at the sinner’s sin, I point out that all men are sinners and then declare Jesus Christ as the answer to the sin dilemma as Savior, Healer, Baptiser and Soon Coming King. Jesus, didn’t walk among them 2000 years ago pointing out sin, He actually loved on them, healed them… yes, healed them of their disease, THEN brought up the obvious and told them to, “Go and sin no more.” He established relationship before sin pointing. As far as offending goes, it’s not my place to offend or not offend it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and afflicts the hearts of men. I’m called to love as Christ loves (loving the unlovely IS a spiritual weapon), walk in the manner He walked, preach that all man are sinners, then point the way to Him (Jesus Christ).

            I fully agree with your point:

            “It is high time for the church in America to wake up and fight the battle on their knees and ask God to grant repentance in the church and in the world because lack of repentance is a sign of God’s judgment on the world (see Rom 1).”

            There is no doubt our nation, as a whole, is entering a time of judgment and that there is a tolerance of sin creeping into some of our churches. I assure you, however, seeking a way to reach the sinner for Christ without condemning them is not tolerating their sin.

            Blessings

          • amos8

            RM, I guess I would disagree, at least with the order … or if there is always one specific sequence. You said, “…THEN brought up the obvious and told them to, “Go and sin no more.” He established relationship before sin pointing.

            Did Jesus (and others … e.g. His disciples) “establish relationships”? Sure. But NOT always. And, in fact, we could argue He (and they … see ACTS) had FEWER “established” relationships than not. [I’m not saying we should not try to seek these relationships, but it is not realistic, at least most of the time (e.g. you and I … and others here on the internet/comment section).

            The first Words of Jesus’ ministry (or one of the first) was “REPENT”! (Mk 1:15). This more than implies SIN. His “forerunner” preached quite a bit about sin and repentance. [notice J the B had very few established relationships with those he called out on their sin]. Jesus’ followers preached quite a bit about sin and repentance.

            What kind of established relationships did Peter/the disciples have in the first sermon with those in his audience? None! [except many had established animosity toward him/them/Jesus!]. We could go on and on about the many examples of godly people who did NOT have established relationships AND who preached the truth, taught the reality of sin and repentance SO THAT they could also teach forgiveness and salvation.

            Yes, having long-term established relationships is ideal, but it is not always possible or realistic. Having perfect weather, an audience hungry for truth, perfect health, no money concerns, etc is also ideal [in life, or when ministering to others] but theses, too, are not realistic!

            Whatever YOU specifically believe about this is one thing, but it is a repeated notion here (on this site) and in the church at large [e.g. that we can’t “preach” or we can’t/should not tell people about “sin” UNTIL we have an “established relationship.” Notice that not only is this notion faulty, but effectively eliminates most people that we can reach.

            You said, “As far as offending goes, it’s not my place to offend or not offend it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and afflicts the hearts of men.”

            Of course it should not be our intention to “offend,” but whenever a person teaches truth (not to mention Biblical truth) it WILL offend (Jer 6:10; 2 Cor 2:14-16; Matt 5:10-12). If, however, we seek to manipulate the Word/reality in order to “not offend” (which is increasingly popular today … in the church-growth movement and emergent movement) then we will always compromise the truth and fail to love.

          • Marsha Smith

            Amos, to be honest, I wasn’t completely comfortable with my use of the word “relationship” when I posted this comment but there was too much activity in the background to maul it over any longer (my son dropped in) so I just left it. Thank you for bringing it up or I would have forgone the effort entirely.

            The type of relationship I was referring to was one of being an impactful encounter where Jesus intimately connected, for a brief amount of time, certain individuals in such a way that it literally changed their lives through physical, emotional, and or spiritual healing. God still does that today ( He did it to me 32 years ago) and in a moments time can completely change the course of an individuals life establishing the beginnings of a deep hunger to know and desire more of Him… a relationship. This is what anointed witnessing, teaching, and preaching of the gospel will do. This is what Peter did and Paul and Timothy etc… I’m all for Biblical preaching of the entire Bible, I stand for the truth and righteousness of God but I will not condemn a man God deeply loves and gave His Son to save. I hate sin with a perfect hatred but I’m also a friend of sinners and a lover of ALL people. My heart aches for them to know the peace of a forgiven life, the freedom that comes in walking in a manner that lines up with the Bible and pleases the heart of God and the joy that is the result of an abundant life in Christ Jesus.

            Jesus showed us how to be that light in a dark world and the salt that draws men to Him. Everything He did was redemptive and produced life. I want to be as much like Him as I can possibly be so those who are lost will want to know more about Him. People need Jesus and He alone can save them. I want to make them thirsty for more.

  • mkdb

    “Point-makers drive people away”

    I’m guessing that the author does not see (nor, apparently, do others) the self-defeating notion here. She is trying to make several points; she is, therefore, a “point-maker,” so then should that also drive us away?

    Okay, point taken!

  • amos8

    Is anyone else getting tired of being judged as “hateful” for speaking the truth (in love) in order to help others with potential or real problems? What is more, this judgment comes in the context of “judging” and condemning those who are judged as “judging”! AND it comes from those who say they are against judging!

    Also, why is this an “either or” situation? (either “the church” or hating) [another problematic "judgment"]

  • amos8

    Is anyone else getting tired of the misleading and “misjudgment” of … “Christians are known more for what they are against than what they are for…”?

    Would we also say, “Doctors are always against things (cancer, disease, pain, etc), shouldn’t they be known for what they are for?” We know that doctors are FOR people by addressing those things that are AGAINST people.

    As Christians, we are FOR everyone IF we lovingly challenge them with the real or potential problems in their life that are AGAINST them. By (potentially) being a part of helping remove these errors or sin, are we not FOR them? Why then do so many attack and misjudge those that are against what is against people?

    “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

    Why is this profound way of love now judged and condemned as “hate”?

    • audie

      –Why is this profound way of love now judged and condemned as “hate”?
      Because the world calls it “hate”, and a church trying to play nice with the world will not find it nice to disagree with the.

  • rodney

    If Andy Stanley does not address the matter of homosexuality from the pulpit as Ruthie states, then he is failing his people. We are obligated to declare the full counsel of God to those who we serve (Acts 20:27). When Christ spoke to the churches in Revelation, He both affirmed and confronted them. God’s ways run against the grain of the world’s ways. That’s why people get life splinters, the God wired universe doesn’t back them up. That’s one reason why Christ came into the world, to be a living example of the true way to life. He did not do this to condemn the world, but to save the world from itself. Truth spoken in the context of grace precludes (oftentimes corrects) confusion. Correct understanding of God’s ways is absolutely essential to holy/healthy living.

    • Daniel

      Can you share the verses in the Bible where Jesus spoke about homosexuality during his earthly ministry?

      The point is, yes homosexuality is sin, but do we need to throw rocks and every sinner? We pastors must decide which Biblical truths we must focus on in order to reach the most people we can with the Good News. I have spoken many times about sexual sins in the context of: there is hope for the lost, freedom for the slave of sin and Christ died for all sinners. Taking Jesus as our example we should never beat sinners up, but go to there houses and eat with them and share the grace that is available to all sinners or should I say all humans.

      We do not live in a Christian nation. There never was a Christian nation. I fully expect more laws to be enacted that will eventually make the Bible illegal in America because it contains anti-homosexual hate speech. This just means one thing. We need to reach the lost with more urgency. Not be getting caught up in a sinful government’s sinful actions, but by sharing the Good News with as many individuals as we can.

      • Tod Thompson

        He (Jesus) speaks very clearly on the subject of marriage being between a man and a woman, and the Apostle Paul speaks out decisively on the subject of homosexuality. Some today in the church might ever call Paul a “hater”, so sweeping is his condemnation of the sin. Christian people are confused about some of these issues because their Pastors won’t speak on them anymore. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that we need to preach grace for the sinner, but we also need to be clear on the subject of sin, all sin, not just homosexuality, but we dare not exclude this sinful behavior because we fear persecution.

        • Daniel

          Appreciate the comment. I don’t fear persecution at all. What I fear is that someone who needs to hear the gospel of grace, like the woman at the well, will not listen because that pastor, “hates gays” so we don’t listen to anything he says.

      • Twinsfan1

        Daniel, I appreciate your words and agree with the gist of your comments, but we need to be careful when using the “Jesus didn’t talk about this” argument. Jesus also didn’t mention rape or genocide, and no one would think that His silence on these means He didn’t care about them or didn’t think they were wrong. And while we don’t have a record in the gospels about His use of the word “homosexuality,” we do have His record of affirming marriage as designed by God in Genesis.

        • Daniel

          I never said that if Jesus didn’t talk about something it is thus irrelevant. I am trying to look at the sermons of Jesus, Peter, Stephen, etc and find out why they were so affective and why so many sermons today are so ineffective. What social and moral issues did they talk about? What main points did they focus on. What cultural mores? What sins did they rebuke? Where were they when they spoke? How did they dress? Everything. It’s a fascinating and vital study that I think would change the way a lot of people look at preaching.

  • amos8

    “I’m different than I was a few years ago, when I was paranoid that I was responsible for everyone else.”

    Yes, you/we are not “responsible for everyone else.” Perhaps that is where you were wrong … BUT you/we do have a supreme responsibility to “Preach the Word” and to “correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim 4:1-2) And I’m concerned that is what you are discouraging others from doing.

  • Ginger Larson

    While I agree with some of what is in the article, why does everything have to be an all or none situation? As Christians, we would all do well to obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance and speak when He would have us speak and listen when He would have us listen. Prov 25:11

    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

    • http://www.shaneyirene.com/ Shaney Irene

      It seems you missed this line: “I know speaking truth is important, so, accordingly, I told my friend that day I didn’t agree with her choice. But I didn’t argue with her or give her 12 reasons why she was wrong.”

      She’s not saying we shouldn’t speak truth, but that our attitude should be one of radical love. There is no all or none in this article and to characterize it as such is unfair.

    • Peter

      It’s because the vast majority of “christians” are NOT following the Holy Spirit..they only think they are..they are following satan and his false prophet, which is masquerading as God’s spirit……if you are following Jesus words in the Gospels to the letter, and keeping His commandments, all ten of them, then it is likely you are following God’s spirit..if you are only following nine out of ten or less, you are following satan…

      • Ruthie Dean

        Ok, this is a tad over the line Mr. Alleged Holy Spirit Follower.

  • Tod Thompson

    I see no conflict between loving people the way God loves people and hating sin the way God hates sin. It troubles me that some people do see a conflict. It’s as if we must tolerate sin or we’re a “hater”. This new emerging Christianity doesn’t really seem to stand for much of anything. They no longer believe like Paul: “How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?”

    • audie

      Good points. This new emerging Christianity, to use your own title, seems to think that the word “love” is synonymous with “compromise” and “concede”.

    • amos8

      Notice that just about the ONLY thing the emerging church stands against is “traditional” or “conservative” Christianity, those with a high view of Scripture, and those that emphasize personal responsibility. They are very zealous against those people. [see Rob Bell's latest rebuke against "traditional" Christians and their need to "Repent"!]

      Notice that this author (of this article) will not address any thing she can not handle.

      • Ruthie Dean

        Actually the emerging church stands against many things: shame, condemnation, hatred, pride, and more. I don’t understand the ‘author will not address anything she can’t handle” sentence–can you explain?

        • amos8

          I wrote SEVERAL questions/points to you (and to others) that have gone unaddressed … Have you not seen them?

          In addition, you said directly above, “Actually the emerging church stands against many things: shame, condemnation, hatred, pride, and more.”

          That’s a good sampling to prove some of my points. The emerging church (which, lets acknowledge, is a generalization … so take it for what it is worth) does say that they “stand against” these things … WHILE DOING THOSE THINGS! (which is just one of my points) And then, to make matters far worse, WILL NOT admit these self-defeating, hypocritical notions/behavior.

          “I judge that you’re wrong to judge … I can judge and condemn, but you can’t because I claimed the moral high ground of ‘I’m against condemning others’ so, therefore, I get to condemn you/others (as, let’s say, a “hater’) and you can’t do anything about it. Got it? You have been judged, condemned, and labeled as being for hate. And if you disagree or defend or try to reason then that just proves my point that you are judgmental, a ‘Pharisee,’ a ‘legalists,’ a “Fundamentalist,’ a ________” [Notice the subtle, and not so subtle "pride" and "shaming" and condemning of others (and, perhaps, "hatred."). Yet the worst thing, however, is the refusal or inability to see the obvious!]

          It is one thing to make a mistake, to sin, to fall for a “fine-sounding argument” (Col 2:4). Perhaps we have all done all of the above (I know I have). But what seems to separate one group from another is the willingness to confess and “repent.”(Prov 28:13) [Notice the EC tends to reserve that "R" word (and their ire) for "traditional" or "Conservative" Christians (more overly generalized terms). Yet that is what brings hope for those who are truly in sin or error ... but the EC judges and condemns that as "hate"!]

          And then the EC/postmodern/liberal folks circle the wagons, step up their attacks on others, and, no matter what, refuse to admit what is painfully obvious (see the comments in this sections alone).

          Much more could be said… thanks for replying.

          So, are you officially in agreement with the EC?

        • amos8

          So ……. I guess you answered your own question.

          • http://www.facebook.com/buck.fleming.7 Buck Fleming

            Wow, I think the focus of this article was to love people the way Jesus loved them. She made it clear that disagreed with the decision, but spoke everything out of a living spirit. I, disagree, with much of the emerging church’s philosophy, but I’ve seen homosexuals repent with this approach. I’ve seen alcoholics and drug addicts run into the open loving arms of Jesus, which if repenting is turning from sin to Jesus, then they repented. Preaching at people doesn’t create disciples, but conversations, questions, befriending them and modeling does. Please refer to Romans 2:4. My question for you is, was your reprimand of the author from a spirit of love, to see her returned to correct doctrine, or was it because you think she’s wrong? This is not a slam, I’m encouraging you to start by first considering your own motivations. Proverbs says that the heart is this most deceitful of all things. Love you brother.

          • amos8

            Hi Buck, thanks for writing. You said:

            “Wow, I think the focus of this article was to love people the way Jesus loved them.”

            I think we ALL say and believe that we want to–and are trying to–“love people the way Jesus loved them.” So, saying my premise, or your premise, or the article’s premise is “to love people the way Jesus loved them” does not make it the precise way that Jesus loved. Intentions are important, but so does accuracy.

            The premise of the emerging church is, however, that the “traditional” or “conservative” church is WRONG, judgmental, hateful, evil, and messing everything up for “true” Christianity. Therefore, it is up to them to usher in this new “tolerant” way thru undermining and attacking conservative beliefs (which the falsehoods and false premises in this article are a perfect illustration of what I am talking about).

            It is their way that is supreme and tolerant … and which does not tolerate conservative Christianity … because the EC judges and condemns the CC to be “judgmental” … AND they see no problem in that hypocritical and self-defeating notion/behavior … nor will they even address it … because they cannot … as is proved by the author in this case.

            As for my motive, yes, it is/was out of love and great concern for her, but also for many more who are seeing/reading these misleading notions which cause so much destruction and death.

            I would also ask a similar question, you seem to have a problem with me/how I handled this, but, apparently, little to no problem with her/her falsehoods (because I don’t see you addressing her … only me). Why is that? I appreciate you wanting to correct me and/or my motives, yet why little concern about demonstrably false/harmful ideology?

            [BTW: Jeremiah 17:9 says the heart is deceitful above all things]

            Thanks again…

        • amos8

          I hope that if you can’t answer these questions/points that you will at least ponder that reality.

  • Bette

    This is an excellent article, and a good example of a time when a faithful Christian recognizes the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit to listen and love, rather than point out someone’s sin to them in a time when the person needs to be loved and listened to. I think when we feel the need to “point out another person’s sin (with love)” we are actually serving our own selfish needs to make our own point known. It takes great humility to set aside our own needs to listen and serve the other person’s needs as a priority. There is a time to talk about the implications of disobeying God’s Word… but I believe there is a time and place for this. Andy Stanley, or any other preacher has a right to speak the words God has called them to speak – or not speak. That is between him and God. I commend Ruthie Dean for presenting a fresh view and for her courage in going against the mainstream “flow” of wanting to point out sin to sinners, when Jesus never commanded us to do this. He commands us to love, and to make disciples for him. We are not judges – the Holy Spirit will bring conviction to all of us in the proper timing, and in the most powerful and perfect way.

    • Ruthie Dean

      Hi Bette,

      Thanks for your encouragement! Amen–we are not judges!

      • amos8

        “We are not judges!” Okay, then can you address what I wrote to another person’s comment (that applies to the comment above and your article) [see below]?

        Also, can you tell us why Jesus tells us to judge (Jn 7:24; Matt 24; 7:6; 15-20)? Can you tell us why Peter, Paul, etc “judged” others, even those outside of the church? The first “sermon” of the church (at Pentecost; and many to follow; Acts 7) included heavy duty judging those that were obviously not in the church! Scripture is full of Christians judging non-Christians (it is often called “discernment”), like “Simon the Sorcerer,” Demetrius, Alexander, Demas, Hymenaeus, Philetus, etc. In fact, this is precisely what opened the door to the share the gospel so that they might “repent” and be forgiven, and be saved!

        “So, are you saying that we can only “rebuke” (or confront/challenge)
        homosexual behavior IF we judge that person to be in the “family of
        God”? That’s quite a position to be in! [Biblically speaking, many say
        they are "Christians" but are not, so we cannot merely go on someone's
        words alone.]

        But if we judge someone as not to be saved, should we, or should we
        not, judge their behavior as sinful (or their status as “sinners” or
        “unsaved”)?

        And then should we, or should we not, love them enough to warn them of their sin/destructive behavior?

        AND then, should we, or should we not, explain their
        “unsaved”/not-in-the-family-of-God status so that we can then share good
        news about their sin?

        That is far more judging than a lot people will accept!”

        You see, the wheels fall off when this notion–that sounds great in theory–is applied to life and Scripture.

        Please, in the light of Scripture, reject this fault notion!

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.flythe George Flythe

    I don’t think any Christian would argue that correction should be done with love (and plenty of it), but why are so many Christians today trying to portray Jesus as a mamby-pampy, “anything goes but I still love you” God? First, we should all understand that God’s Word is exactly that – God’s Word. It is THE standard just like Christ is THE way to Heaven. If this point is ever in question, there really isn’t much to discuss until they can see that there is no wiggle room. Second, correction must be done with gentleness and kindness, but they (and we) need to be shown there is a right and wrong. If they continue to live in this sin publicly, the church is responsible for taking very harsh, Biblical measures to show them correction. Third, Christians today have been looked down upon for being “too harsh” when really, Christians have simply stuck to God’s standard. The world sees God also as “too harsh” until they can form God and His Word into something that they “feel” is right. However, God and His Word is unchanged. The knee jerk reaction over the past few years in the church trying to redefine themselves as “accepting” and “open minded” is to water down the Truth in the name of “love.” We are continuing on a trend where everyone is doing right in his own eyes, but it’s not a surprise. Romans 1:18-32 is a great representation of today.

    • amos8

      Great reply, George. I agree.

      I would say that the problems today (coming from the church) is that

      1) they do not know how to judge (i.e. discern right from wrong)

      2) if/when they judge they might not do it so well
      3) they are constantly fed articles like this that discourage discernment
      4) if/when they “judge” the often do, as you pointed out (at least indirectly) don’t do so with enough love
      5) if/when they do “judge” or discern they are frequently JUDGED and condemned by the more PC Christians (not to mention, non-christians and ANTI-Christians)
      6) many believe and teach a faulty notion along the lines of, “If we just get people to like us then they will want to follow Jesus … and it is those “Judgmental” so-called “Christians” that are blowing it for everyone!” “No, I will not admit that I just judged someone for judging!”

      7) Christians are constantly barraged with misinformation and judgment and even bullying NOT to discern or make judgments … and they do not know how to handle these attacks so … they eventually give in and write “fine-sounding” (Col 2:4) articles like this one.

    • Ruthie Dean

      Not addressing ‘heated’ issues in the church doesn’t mean the truth is watered down. It’s just a wise realization that when homosexuality or divorce is slammed from the pulpit–the people that don’t need to hear the truth (i.e. the ones that aren’t struggles with these particular sins) are the ones cheering. The homosexuals, divorcees, etc. are the ones who never want to come back. Andy recently did a sermon about “second marriage grace” where he didn’t condone divorce, but acknowledged it exists and offered healing for divorcees.

      God’s wrath burns against sin–but when we are covered in the blood of Christ–God’s wrath is satisfied and we are loved.

      • a struggling man

        It’s so good to know that I can get rid of my wife and get it right with God later on (but only after I get this other woman I’ve been coveting for years now). After all, it’s all good. Divorce is bad, but not that bad. If a woman doesn’t suit my taste anymore, why not get on with another one that fits my new preferences? After all, God loves sinners like me. You gotta love that God! No matter what you do, he still loves you!!! Out with judgmentalism, and in with tolerance! Out with condemning divorce and divorcees, and in with condemning divorce but help the divorcee remarry!!! I love the church now. I used to think Christ wasn’t for the faint of heart or those who worry about losing themselves. I like American Christianity. It is so much more loving than it used to be.

  • http://www.edcyzewski.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

    The important point for me in this article is that we can’t apply the Bible for others. Unless we are engaged in their lives, we have no space to speak in any meaningful way. Anyone can just pick up a Bible and read it. Is it any different if I just hit someone over the head with scripture and walk away? Evangelicals in America have especially become so obsessed with quick, short term plans and results. What if redemption takes a lifetime of friendship?

    Well said Ruthie.

    • Ruthie Dean

      I love this : “What if redemption takes a lifetime of friendship?” In my experience, beating someone over the head with scripture or telling how terrible they are for adopting a certain lifestyle–doesn’t change their behavior, or heart.

      • amos8

        Again, you are MIS-judging this as an “either or…” (i.e. a false dichotomy) and so, therefore, we should accept your view. This is like saying all conflicts end either in shooting a person or avoiding the conflict. There are many other ways this ends up, but not in your judgment.

        And it seems as if your implying, if not down right (MIS) judging, that Christians “beat others over the head with scripture” or tell how terrible they are for … “adopting a certain lifestyle.” Do some? Sure, but why lump most (all?) Christians into this? Why does it seem that you are so judgmental (if not hateful) toward people and judge them (subtly, if not overtly) as being judgmental or using “hate” (which is YOUR word)? Why don’t you see the many self-defeating notions?

        Could it be that your experience is not the standard? (but it can have some value, of course). Could it be that what “works” is not the standard? Could it be that Scripture is the Standard (i.e. doing what God says, not what WE think “works” or is best)?

      • RevSteve

        I am having a real difficult time with this response. You seem to be saying that a lifetime of friendship will bring healing, but God’s Word won’t. Please tell me how a Christian can bring healing, understanding and repentance without Scripture. Paul told Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. It seems to me that your friend was in desperate need of teaching, correcting and training in righteousness at this point in her life and you failed her by not giving her exactly what God has given us to use for this. Some other passages that might be relevant here: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live . . . Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure . . .” Truthfully, I found very little that you did in your response to this woman to be of eternal value to her. In John 1, we are told that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Affirming her hurt and frustration with her husband and offering an ear and shoulder were wonderful acts of grace, but there was no truth given that would have set her free. I guess my point is, it is not one or the other. If we give truth and no grace, we become like the pharisees, if we offer grace and no truth, we offer nothing but a touchy-feely gospel that offers no hope.

        • amos8

          You see, according to the criteria put forth in this article, you and your “truth” and “Scripture” and challenging others with this truth for their benefit is considered “hate.” Got it?

          Also, I would not expect a response, let alone a reasoned response (not that she can’t or won’t, but she has not shown herself to do so). Perhaps you and I are not in the “church” category, but in the “hate” group.

          Of course this condemnation was determined through love, acceptance, tolerance, inclusion, and non-judgmentalism because we know that liberalism/the emergent church would NEVER do that. It is only those who “hate” who would “separate” people from being in the “church” or in “hate.”

  • Rusty

    Outstanding

    • Ruthie Dean

      Thanks, Rusty!

  • David T

    The tile of this article troubles me. A lot of people try to equate disagreement with hate and the title of this article feeds that mentality. It seems to be very a common tactic in the political arena but I don’t think believers should play that game. If disgreement = hate then we are in serious trouble. Please don’t feed this lie to make a title catchy and interesting. The article itself makes some good points but this issue is not simple and the solution is not a one-size-fits-all. We can’t allow ourselves to be intimidated by a culture where every player gets a trophy and all ideas and lifestyles are equally valid.

  • Kc

    As long as we are quoting Andy Stanly how about, ” Judge the believin’ not the heathen”. It sounds like a Christian sister came for biblical advice and got sympathy instead of true love. Speak the truth in love, but by all means speak the truth.

  • Daniel

    We are to rebuke those in the family of God, but to those outside the family we are to share the Good News of grace and hope.

    1 Cor. 512-13 “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you”

  • Tyler Mase

    That’s what I was talking about. It is apparent from her story that this was one of her church friends. But while we are on the subject Daniel, the message of grace and hope is hope from what? There’s an old saying, “they won’t find Jesus till they know they are lost.” Jesus and John the Baptist used the same terms to awaken people from their spiritual indifference….Matthew 3:7 (NLT)
    7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize,* he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Is that a message hope? The problem is that most people wouldn’t think so, but it is. Is that a message of love, most wouldn’t think so, but it is.

  • amos8

    So, are you saying that we can only “rebuke” (or confront/challenge) homosexual behavior IF we judge that person to be in the “family of God”? That’s quite a position to be in! [Biblically speaking, many say they are "Christians" but are not, so we cannot merely go on someone's words alone.]

    But if we judge someone as not to be saved, should we, or should we not, judge their behavior as sinful (or their status as “sinners” or “unsaved”)?

    And then should we, or should we not, love them enough to warn them of their sin/destructive behavior?

    AND then, should we, or should we not, explain their “unsaved”/not-in-the-family-of-God status so that we can then share good news about their sin?

    That is far more judging than a lot people will accept!

  • mkdb

    “We proclaim him, ADMONISHING and teaching EVERYONE with all wisdom so that we may present EVERYONE perfect in Christ.”

  • Ruthie Dean

    AMEN. Exactly. Thanks for bringing this verse to the discussion.

  • amos8

    Yes, and what about Jonah’s 8 words of doom!? There was no hope of redemption. Oh, but what a success! It is amazing what happens when we obey God and not our own devices.

  • mkdb

    You mentioned “context” (in another comment), well, how about the context of all of the verses? Including the one I posted below. I don’t want you to be guilty of selective verses, while avoiding other pertinent and crucial verses.

  • Daniel

    Sounds like 1 Cor. 5:12 is not your cup of tea.

  • Daniel

    You can certainly teach and admonish people, but according to scripture Christians have no authority over non-believers.

  • mkdb

    I agree, but that is not what you said (or implied). And it is not what this author (apparently) believes and is teaching.

    I thank God that someone rebuked or admonished me (someone that I did not know, nor did he have authority over me) about my sin so that I could realize the reality of my sin, the reality of forgiveness, the gospel, salvation, etc.

    If he waited around for a relationship, for the right amount of authority, then who knows what might have happened!

  • amos8

    It sounds like you cannot answer my questions!

  • welly

    Amen brother!