Friends, I am hurting! Tears are literally welling up in my eyes as I am thinking. It pains me deeply to say what I am about to say. There is a certain reality that hits once I publish my thoughts. Once I speak or write I can never take back the words. The thoughts of my heart, my private reflections are about to go public. I cannot help it. Similar to Jeremiah, I have tried not to speak, but there is as if there is a fire in my bones and I have to give vent to the burning inside of me (Jeremiah 20:9).
I am fearful some will not understand. I am fearful that some will treat me differently. I am afraid that some will think bad of me. So please read carefully. Please understand me. Know that I love you, each and every one of you. Please know I love God, Christ, and the Spirit. Understand that I believe the Bible to be the Word of God and that through His word He tells us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2Pe 1:3). I believe that God wants – no desires – all people to be with Him in Heaven (2Pe 3:9, 1Ti 2:4) and through Jesus the Christ (Messiah) God provides the only way back to Himself (John 14:6).
With that said, I am hurting.
- I hurt for the world. A world that seems to increasingly hate the Christ, and those that follow Him. A world I thought I would never see. A world that at best pokes fun at Christianity and at worst puts followers of Christ in prison and to death, simply for confessing His name.
- I cry over a world that dogmatically calls people of convictions different from their own, “bigots.”
- I do not understand why the world is intolerant of Christians while accusing Christians of intolerance.
- I hurt that our world is selfishly self-serving. Individuals and groups want more than acceptance, they want the removal of all consequences of their actions or beliefs and the elimination of all who disagree with them. This is IMPOSSIBLE.
- I cry for the nation I live in – the United States of America. I cry that we, as a nation, are embracing sin at an ever increasing rate.
- I morn the violence against people of different races or gender. I am ashamed that such prejudice even exists – especially among those who claim to follow the Christ.
- I cry for the victims of abuse of all kinds.
There are more things I cry over. There is more that depresses me. I am a relatively positive person, if you look up optimist you might even see my picture in the dictionary, but I do not feel optimistic about our world. We live in a world filled with what First Century Greeks would call:
- “pornos” – sexual immorality. This includes intimate hetero-sexual (male-female) relationships outside of marriage.
- “eidololatres” – idolaters. Those that worship any god but God. Those that put any thing, person, activity, pleasure, recreation, etc. as priority over God.
- “moichos” – adulterers. Those that have sexual relations with someone other than their spouse. Those that have multiple divorces and remarriages that do not follow Jesus’ statement on marriage and divorce (Mat 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mar 10:2-12).
- “malachos” – effeminate or soft. This one is troublesome. I am not sure the entire meaning. My best understanding is that it describes men who try to look like women. In First Century Greek cultures, younger men would shave body hair, dress like women, offer themselves as temple prostitutes or as the “companion” of wealthy men. At the very least a modern equivalent would be what we know as cross-dressing or being transgender.
- “arsenokoites” – literally “man-chambering” or sexual relations between two men. This is what we now call homosexuality. Such was a practice in the First Century especially among the cultural elite.
- “kleptes” – thieves. Those that steal from others.
- “pleonektes” – greedy. Those that covetously seek for their own gain not caring about others in the process. They are avaricious.
- “methusos” – drunkards. Those that use chemicals (specifically alcohol) to become high (intoxicated).
- “loidoros” – revilers. Those that look for and start fights (they are purposefully critical in an abusive or insulting way).
- “harpax” – extortionists or swindlers. They prey on others and cheat them out of their possessions.
That First Century list looks familiar. I cringe to think the world is still the same 2000 years later. Surely we can evolve beyond such rapacity. But we have not, will not, and that hurts me deeply.
What is sadder still is that these same accusations are not only applicable to the world outside of Christ, but many who claim to follow Christ are just as guilty. That is why after Paul composed this aforementioned list to Christians in 1Co 6:9-10, he continues, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Co 6:11).
Three thoughts and I leave this post in your hands. Three thoughts and I let you go about your day. Three thoughts as I read Paul’s admonition:
- Christians ought not to be harsh to those who practice sinful behaviors. We ought to understand. We were there, that was us.
- Those things (behaviors and attitudes) WERE who we were BEFORE we came to the Christ and gave our life to Him. Now we should put those things away and live for Him. He is now our life (Col 3:4) and we put away those things.
- Now our role is not to point people to sin. Those who sin are guilty and need GRACE and FORGIVENESS that is in Christ. Let us point them to Christ and life in Him. Let us not be a laser in the eyes or salt in an open wound but on the contrary be a welcoming light and savoring salt (Mat 5:13-16).