“You died with Christ and were made free from the powers that influence this world. So why do you act as if you still belong to the world?” – Colossians 2:20.
On a Wednesday evening, my midweek men’s group discussed the phrase “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
“But pointing out other people’s sins so we can condescend to ‘love’ them is not what Jesus teaches,” I said. “Instead, God is calling us to be leaders in love, and love is a more powerful change agent than judgement. Love is also a more effective invitation than the threat of exclusion.”
Like the desperately sad guy said when my wife asked him if he had a church home: “All they ever did was tell me I was going to hell. Lady, I’m already there.”
For many, Hell is not a destination to avoid, but a reality now. The invitation of Jesus is not so much about getting our ticket punched for paradise, but to join in with God’s initiatives of grace, mercy, justice and hope today. Jesus is inviting us—absolutely everyone—to trust God and to participate in God’s saving acts right now. Because Jesus has made the way clear.
Here’s a good example: It’s like after Victory in Europe Day (1945), when my mother’s London church invited German soldiers and downed airmen from the POW camp to afternoon tea and fellowship, welcoming them pretty much every weekend before they were repatriated. The message was clear, and it went something like this: “The war is over. We (the Allies) may have won, but what it means is that now you’re free too.”
Jesus won this epic victory over death, and destruction, and despair, and brokenness, and evil, and sin—everything that separates us from God. So, like my mum’s church in the ruins of the Blitz, we can say to absolutely everyone: “It’s over; we won, but what this means is that now you are free too.”
That’s not judgement, it’s opportunity. Love, plain and simple, has already set us free. DEREK