A Word from Your BCC Team: Today’s blog was first posted in the form of an Op-Ed article written by Pastor Steve Viars for the Lafayette Journal and Courier. You can read the online version here. It was also posted on the Faith Church’s blog, and is republished with permission. You can read the post on Faith’s site here.
The 88th Note
The question I’ve been asked most frequently by people outside Faith Church since the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage is what an organization like us plans to do now. I find that surprising because responding to decisions about how other people choose to live is at best the 88th note on our piano. We’re not political junkies, culture warriors, or media pundits because such activities are far afield from our God-given mission. The simple answer to the question is that we intend to do the same things we’ve been doing since we were founded by a small group of followers of Jesus on South 18th Street fifty years ago.
First, we intend to continue to focus on our own sin.
The Christian life is a joyful celebration of our risen Savior who died on the cross of Calvary to free us from the penalty, power, and someday even the presence of sin. Since repenting and placing our faith in Christ, we are now in the delightful process of spiritual growth. We want to love God and seek biblical truth about how to become better people, spouses, parents, employees, and members of our community. So our goal is to deal with our own imperfections—not the possible shortcomings of others.
Some people like to say “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Honestly, that is not where Faith is coming from because that slogan gives the impression we think others are sinners and we’re not. The more we come to understand the holiness of God as revealed in His Word, the more we see our own need for change. We find great hope in the possibility of growing in Christ, but it is a full-time pursuit. So, right now and in the foreseeable future, we plan to hate our own sin. We think that focus will keep us plenty busy right up until the day of eternity.
Second, we plan to continue to find creative ways to love our neighbors.
That’s the other weakness with the “hate the sin, love the sinner” approach. It suggests that we first and foremost think about those around us as sinners. Do we all sin and fall short of the glory of God? Sure, if the Bible’s view on the subject is to be believed (Romans 3:23). But Scripture specifically and repeatedly commands us not to wrongfully judge people (cf. Matthew 7:1; 2 Corinthians 5:12), but instead to love them. We have no intention of allowing the Supreme Court’s recent ruling to make us angry, cynical, separated, or self-righteous.
There are many pressing needs in our community, and we want to bring whatever financial and human resources the Lord has entrusted to us to the table to join hands with others to sacrificially serve. So if you would self-identify as someone other than a follower of Christ, here’s the way the people of Faith wish to relate to you: as our neighbor whom we would consider it a privilege to love.
Third, we will continue to invite others to join us on this great journey of faith.
The gospel by its very definition is good news about a God who forgives, cleanses, and changes those who come to Him in repentance and faith. We love sharing this story of hope with those interested in having a personal relationship with Him. It was instructive to us that the same week the Supreme Court issued its ruling, God gave our congregation the privilege of seeing several children and adults come to know Jesus Christ through Vacation Bible School and our Community Biblical Counseling Ministry. The Lord reigns over all.
Fourth, on the rare occasions when we believe we should play our 88th note, we want to play it well.
We understand that the next step in this discussion is the desire on the part of many to add sexual orientation and gender identity to our state’s anti-discrimination laws. People on both sides are already lining up for the next stage of the battle.
We believe there is a better way forward that could actually unite our community and state instead of dividing it yet again. Why not come together and seek a genuine compromise that acknowledges and respects the legitimate rights and concerns of both groups? Isn’t that what Hoosier hospitality is really all about?
We stand ready to participate in any attempt to bring peacemaking and unity to this divisive issue. And if our friends and neighbors on the left—or on the right for that matter—seem to be out of balance in a way that threatens religious freedom, we’ll probably point that out. But we’ll try to do it kindly, logically, and rarely.
In the meantime, our intent is to continue to make the main thing the main thing. The gospel of Jesus Christ deserves nothing less.