Daily Fast Write 3/10/15

“How can we take sinners into the congregations without condemnation?” That’s a pretty big question. Are sinners welcome in our congregations? Well, they should be. But are they really? I think I operate on something that says I’d rather a person be “here” in church living completely in sin than they be somewhere else. Want to live that way? OK. I’m glad you’re here. Can lives be transformed if people live in sin? I would say that they can. I think everyone has a particular sin that they can’t overcome. For some, that might be cussing when he or she stumps their toe on the desk. For others it might be drinking and fornication. Either way, I think it’s better for them and for us as a community to accept them into the church body unconditionally and help them transform their life, even if that’s in every way other than the one in question. Surely that is better than nothing, yes? I think so. What do we do to make the Gospel transformative? That’s what it needs to be. How can we teach the Gospel in such a way that it transforms others? I think we do a great job of teaching the Gospel in such a way that it informs those that we teach, but do we tell them anything that really causes them to change their actions? Surely we should. There are a lot of people who have transformed, Christ-like lives, but can’t quote the Bible on command. And I think there are a lot of people who can quote on command but haven’t really been transformed. I’d rather have folks who have been transformed. Maybe that’s the way to work with the sinners. Rather than browbeating them and telling them how wretched they are for breaking God’s commandments, we should teach things in such a way that it shows what we believe and allows transformation to take place. I think we do a poor job of that. Addiction, that just came to mind. We like to talk about addiction in places where it doesn’t really belong, I think. “He’s addicted to TV” we might say. The big one that we like to toss about it addicted to pornography. Can one be addicted to pornography? Well, that’s a little more complicated than one might think because they DSM doesn’t list it as an addiction, but yes, people can meet the definitions for addiction with pornography. Not everyone does, though. We need to realize that. As difficult as it might be for people to admit, some folks can watch stuff and maintain a perfectly functional relationship. Who knows how often they might watch. Also, I don’t think frequency of use makes one addicted. Addiction happens when dependency exists. Without dependency, withdrawal, and so forth, it’s not addiction. This came up on Jana Reiss’ blog last week, so it just came to mind. We need to better define things. Addiction is a strong word. Using it has meaning. Mostly, addicts don’t think they’re addicted so if you start off saying “we have a problem with pornography addiction” then many folks who could benefit will tune out because “well, I’m not addicted, they’re not talking to me.” Strange how that works. Transformation of lives. How can we transform lives without condemnation? Jesus never told that woman caught in adultery that she was forgiven and he never told her that what she was doing was OK. He simply said ‘go and sin no more.’ She remained a part of the Church, she was not expelled. Neither do I condemn you, Jesus said. I need to remember that.

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