Question and Answer
What is the church "for"?
Often, it seems that the Church is known for the things that it is against rather than what we hold to be true, namely, that Jesus Christ has saved us from the wrath we deserve and given us what we have not earned. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. How do we combat this in the church at large?
Thank you for your question to us. It is sad that the world does perceive that we are "against" so much, rather than understanding that we are "for" so much more. The saddest part is that this perception was involved in the original temptation to Adam. Satan, through the serpent, challenged how God did not give to them all the trees of the Garden, but kept back one tree. And the corruptions of our heart ever since that fall into sin provoke us to bring ill accusations against God. Those accusations are then laid against all who would speak the message of God. The problem is not that we are against these things, but that God is.
Since the core of the conflict is involved in sin, there is no hope that people will see it otherwise apart from God's regenerating grace to them. Until they see the evil and sorrow of sin, the heart is held in bondage and blindness. Deadly sin is seen as pleasant, and slavery to sin is called "freedom." When you call people from darkness into light, they hear you saying you are against darkness!
In the foolish wisdom of men, churches have historically at times sought to smooth over the tension by trying to proclaim a "gospel" of faith without a clear element of repentance. That "gospel" is obviously not the one preached by Jesus. Matthew 4:17 says that Jesus began to preach the Gospel by telling men to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. He also said, in Matthew 9:13, that he had come to call sinners to repentance. I'm sure you could quote many other similar verses from the Gospels; the essence of the Gospel calls men to God, and that means that they are also called from sin.
So, in short, we cannot help the fact that we will be known for the things we are against while those things are dear to the heart of a sinner. We must be careful and clear, however, to point out that we have a message of mercy for those who are sinners. Herein we have a great advantage. Fallen man knows that he is under the judgment of God, and will be held accountable for those evil things he does. Though we go further, and tell him that he will also be held accountable for the evil that is within him, we also proclaim forgiveness in the name of Jesus. We point to Christ and to grace, not to Pharisaic changes in behavior. When God blesses that message unto conversion, the renewed soul understands how much we are for instead of against.
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