This morning, James White tweeted this:
‘Welcoming’ in a Christian worldview means ‘all repentant sinners are welcome to hear the gospel and believe.’
This is true as far as it goes, but I think many conservative Christians don’t really practice this. I don’t know Dr. White personally, so I’ll assume what I consider to be the best and guess that he has actually done what I’m going to suggest.
Recently I had dinner with a perfectly wonderful family. We sat at the table and enjoyed delicious food and laughed a lot. But a point in the conversation came where the mom of the family began to talk about a woman she’d become acquainted with had married another woman. She rolled her eyes at the suggestion that her husband and her should do as Jesus did–eat with sinners.
“Won’t that imply we agree with her life decisions?” asked the mom.
“No,” I said. “You have relatives who believe all sorts of things you disagree with. You don’t approve of divorce, but most people have family members who’ve gone through that pain–and they will still eat with them. Everyone needs the Gospel…why not make her feel welcome?”
I know in my own upbringing, we admitted that we were sinners. But we didn’t fellowship with sinners whose sins were different or more taboo than ours. We weren’t interested in actually befriending anyone; we were more interested in them meeting God before we had to meet them.If God accepts people as they are, we should do the same. Accepting someone as they are doesn’t mean putting them on a timetable of change. It doesn’t mean withholding the good news of Christ’s redemption from them, either. It means eating with people, valuing them as human beings, showing them genuine, tangible love.
Imagine you have a mismatched outfit on. Someone comes to your house whom you’ve never met but maybe once or twice. You are going to go to the art show in town and you’re grabbing your coat. You know that this person is a fashion designer, so you already feel slightly judged, but you think you might like hanging with this person. They see you and they immediately begin to harp on your mismatched outfit.
Do you ever want to see them again?
Even if what they say is true?
I mean…it’s TRUE what they’re saying. Hot pink and fuchsia don’t match. They’re actually painful to look at in almost any light.
They’re right. But incredibly rude.
Wouldn’t it be more Christ-like if we came alongside people…showed them they’re more than their mismatched clothes (read: sin)…and really loved them? Then when we tell them, “You have the desire to have a bright, vibrant outfit on…and that’s awesome and creative. I saw you wearing a great pair of pants the other day that would look great with that top you’re wearing,” we’ve actually earned the right to say that. And not only earned the right–we’ve become less likely to value the truth over valuing the person.
Don’t just say you love someone. Love them. Truly. Christ demands nothing less from His Bride.