I’m noticing from some emails I receive that some Christians have a narrow view of “being biblical.” I’ll get emails from well meaning Christians asking me about our stance on a particular sin. They’ll go on to ask why we don’t publicly condemn a particular sin.
The email will say “we’ve heard that Discovery welcomes (a certain type of sinner.) please provide a biblical defense of this.” The email sender is very concerned that we’re not being Biblical as a church because we welcome….well…..sinners.
In all my years of being in church, I’ve never once received a note from someone asking us to give a “biblical” defense of why we’re unwelcoming, or not being gracious. Why is the notion of being “biblical” translate to being restrictive or publicly taking a stand? Why doesn’t it also mean radically welcoming, extending grace or celebrating a prodigal?
Using the criteria of the emails I receive, Jesus sure wasn’t very biblical. Here is how we attempt to be Biblical:
1. Jesus welcomed everyone except one particular population. By being biblical, we should welcome who Jesus welcomes and we should shun who Jesus shuns. Jesus welcomed “sinners” and shunned religious snobs. Discovery welcomes sinners, but also welcomes religious snobs, so its possible that we’re not being very biblical. I’m a recovering religious snob, so perhaps its in self interest that we welcome religious snobs as well as the people Jesus welcomes.
2. What ever the Bible calls sin, we do too. People get confused with welcoming and endorsing. The Bible doesn’t endorse much of the behavior of the people in my church including my own behavior. God is not exactly endorsing my greed, need for attention or pride, to name three quick examples. Until we publicly condemn these sins, why go after others?
3. The Bible doesn’t seem to elevate one sin over another. If anything, it cautions most against sins of the heart – sins that are invisible to the outside world as opposed to sins that are easier to spot. But the modern church loves to focus on the sin-du-jour. It used to be smoking, then communism, then divorce. Now it is homosexuality. I’m not sure what the sin du jour will be next, but I doubt it will be religious snobbery.
Being a Biblical Church. Welcoming like Jesus, embracing the truth and clear teaching of Scripture. Never one without the other. A tension of truth and grace that is no tension at all for Jesus, who is the way and the truth and the life.