Currently in the Christian Church there seems to be a need to either condone or condemn. In every major issue that our society and our culture is discussing and even redefining the Christian Church picks sides.
So, many nations are dealing with the issue of ‘gay marriage’ and the equal rights of gays to marry. It is a major concern today as it is a human rights issue and is redefining the acceptable and long-standing Christian definition of marriage.
The liberal denominations choose to condone those who live a gay lifestyle and are wanting to see their relationship with their partner recognized by the government and society at large. The conservation side of the Christian faith strongly and often loudly condemn this move to alter the long-accepted understanding of the marriage union as between one man and one woman.
There have been other issues in the past – some still being fought over but in a less public way. Abortion to name one. There are other current societal issues such as self-assisted suicide and human trafficking. Most likely there will be others in the future.
However, selecting side and finding yourself in one camp or the other seems counter-productive for the Christian. Yes, we need to decide what we believe based on God’s Word, the Bible, which is our only real and permanent authority. But then, there are so many different interpretations of what the Bible states. Yes, we need to fight for what we consider right. Yes, there are very definite absolutes in Christian theology, the Church’s teachings, and the Kingdom of God. So, make an informed and prayerful decision where you are taking your stand on these and other issues.
But, planting your feet deep on one side of the street yelling at those who are firmly planted on the other side of the street is simply not beneficial for anyone nor does it bring any form of resolution to issues we are facing as a culture and as a Church.
Jesus apparently had a third option. He refused to condemn or condone. Instead, He carried on a conversation. When you look at biblical accounts of the ministry of Jesus and see His encounters with various people you see that He neither condoned nor condemned. He simply built relationally and carried on conversations. With the woman caught in adultery Jesus asked her was there anyone here to condemn you. She answered that there was not. He then said, “Neither do I condemn you,” and added “So, go and sin no more.” In other words, His words expressed that He was not condoned her behaviour and lifestyle either.
It would be good to pause and remember that “Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save the world” (John 3:17) remembering that He certainly never justified or condoned a sinful lifestyle either. And, as a Church begin to live as He lived.
Jesus had a third option – a third way to handle life’s issues – because Jesus neither condemned nor condoned. What He does do is eat with people. This gives opportunity for a conversation to happen.
In the conversation the Good News (Gospel) makes sense and people
can ask their questions, express their doubts, apply the truth, and, in time, be transformed by a change of heart.
We see this in the story of Zacchaeus … Where Jesus tells him to come down from the tree because Jesus was inviting Himself to Zacchaeus’ house for a meal and a conversation.
We see it again, time after time, when Jesus visited and stayed with His friends – Martha, Mary, and Lazarus – and the frequent meals He ate while staying there … and the neighbours who were influenced because they came to eat and to talk.
This third option … not to condemn, not to condone … but to simply be open to conversation. This is something we need to grab hold of and embrace strongly today in the culture we are now living in and the societal issues we are discussing and facing on a daily basis.