Last Sunday was probably the least fun message I’ve had to give in my short experience of being a pastor. There was more feedback after this message than probably any that I’ve given in the past. Some positive. Some negative. Some just wanting questions answered.
I spoke about sexual immorality in the church today. To see the message, click here. I was speaking on 1 Corinthians 5 where in just 13 verses Paul talks about sexual immorality, excommunication, and judgment. Fun stuff, right? In the message, I referenced different sorts of sexual immorality that happen amongst Christians (sleeping before marriage, sleeping around even after married, porn, homosexuality, etc.).
I wanted to write a quick blog to clear up a few things on what Sunday was all about. When you throw out words in a message like porn, fornication, homosexuality, sleeping together, people get uncomfortable. Some even pick out certain words that you said and make the entire sermon all about that. For instance, because I mentioned the word “homosexuality,” I received a couple of texts that said something to the affect of God loves everyone, including gays. And to that, I would say, “Yes, I agree!” And so do we. That’s not what the message was about though. Because I mentioned “sleeping and living together” before marriage, some weren’t sure if I would welcome people actively doing this into our church. The short answer, “Yes, please come.” That’s not what the message was about though.
The main point of the message on Sunday is the fact that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS OUR “STUFF.” For many of us, and the reason why so many got emotional on Sunday, is because this issue of sexual immorality is the “stuff” that is very near to us, maybe even inside of us. It has impacted everyone negatively. That’s why there was more emotion and more feedback than normal and that’s why it was a tough message to preach. It’s never fun to call people out and tell them what they are doing is wrong. But isn’t that our place? And isn’t that what God is calling us to do?
So many individuals and churches don’t deal with sin very well. They sweep it under a rug, act like it’s not there, and put on a show for everybody, especially on Sunday mornings, when on the inside, sin is killing us and destroying churches. And churches promote this sort of ideal that everyone that comes to church has got their act together, when the truth is, that all of us are as jacked up as the next person. And so, if we have this sin in our lives, how do we deal with sin?
We have to remember that as Christians, change is possible. If not, why do we keep coming to church? We sign up and get involved in church because we believe that God can and will not only change us, but also the community we are a part of. So why would we not want or expect for ourselves to change? My goal is not to change anybody. Your goal shouldn’t be to change anybody. What we ought to do is continue to introduce people to a God who loves them more than anything, and who showed that love for us by sending His one and Only Son into this world. He crushed Him on a cross to pay the price for the sin that is a part of our life. As people meet Jesus, and as the Holy Spirit works, change is possible and change will happen. God is the one who changes people, not us. We continue to point them to Jesus and share His grace with them. We welcome all people no matter what they are dealing with. You don’t have to put on a show here. We know you are not perfect. And I’m not either. But we also believe that God wants to change you. And we want to see that. We want to celebrate that with you.
Think about it. We profess that we have the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. This is the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. You cannot believe the Holy Spirit lives inside of you and at the same time believe that you are incapable of changing. That doesn’t make sense. If you are saying you are incapable of change, you do not have the Holy Spirit inside of you, and I’m concerned for your faith.
The problem in 1 Corinthians 5 is that the Christians were living a life of sexual sin, they were unrepentant and unwilling to change, and they were bragging about it. If this is ever someone in any church today, I hope they would be dealt with discipline. They lost the hope and belief that God can change them. When people lose that hope, they influence others, and they are a detriment to the church. We cannot have people spreading the lies that “this is just who I am,” or “accept me for who I am,” or “this is how God made me.” As Christians, let’s admit we have “stuff” in our life. Let’s believe and hope that change is possible.
God has already changed us. He has made us saints instead of sinners, worthy instead of unworthy, holy instead of unholy. He continues to work in us. He’s not done yet.
After agreeing that change is possible, then we need to help each other out and hold each other accountable. This is not easy and not fun. It’s hard to hold each other accountable, but it’s what God asks us to do and the church has to be faithful to that calling.
So how do we deal with sin in the church?
1) Admit that we are messed up.
2) Believe that God can change us.
3) Hold each other accountable.
That’s what Sunday was about.
One last thing. I did receive some positive comments as well from the sermon. But let me just caution those who praised the message. The people that Jesus came down hardest on in his ministry were those who were judgmental, arrogant, and prideful. I heard many comments about how it’s refreshing for someone to speak truth and call sin a sin. I agree and that needs to happen. But don’t be judgmental about it. If that somehow made you feel good to hear others being called out, or if that was fun to see a few of your brothers and sisters in Christ squirm, then you need to take a look in the mirror and repent of your pride and arrogance. You are just as much of a sinner and while I may be calling out people for sexual sin, your sin of pride and arrogance is just as awful and caused your Savior to go to the cross as well. Don’t be arrogant. If you don’t think you deal with sexual sin, you should probably admit first and foremost that you are a liar. But if you truly, really don’t deal with this issue, consider that a blessing! Work towards helping those people who are stuck in that sin rather than judging them and getting excited when they are getting called out.
Welcome to theCross! Immerse yourself in the middle of a bunch of porn addicts, alcoholics, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, fornicators, scumbags, freaks, liars, thieves, and gamblers! We’re a bunch of messed up people that God is doing amazing things with! We got our issues, but we are working on them and we’re not just going to sweep them under the rug. If you are tired of same ole’ church, tired of constantly carrying the baggage, guilt, shame and despair of your sin, tired of churches where everybody’s buttoned up and puts on a show, if you are truly looking to grow and change, I think you’d like it here. And even more importantly, you’d love our God!