Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.' - Deuteronomy 32: 35 (ESV)
We ought to get down on our knees and thank God He does not treat us the same way we treat people who are in desperate need of Him. I know sometimes we get our own righteousness, which is filthy rags, confused with that of our Savior but it is time we stop playing high and mighty with the very people we are supposed to bring the Gospel to. I had written about this Oregon baker story last week and still am amazed at the reaction of some Christians who think that their role on earth must be to condemn the blind for walking into a pit. These are good Christians. Friends even. I said I know this is a difficult subject for many but pick up your Bibles and read the Gospels and tell me where on earth you see a Jesus who would deny baking a cake for someone because they were a sinner?
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. - Colossians 4: 5-6 (ESV)
Do you honestly think what happened in Oregon was making the best use of the time left before Christ returns? Do you think the speech of the Kleins was "seasoned with salt?" Seriously? Mrs. Klein when refusing to bake the cake told the lesbian couple that their union was an abomination unto the Lord. Mr. Klein said that their marriage offended his views based on Bible verses in Genesis. Did you get that? Someone else's sin offended him based upon Bible verses that are intended for him. We might believe that sin lifestyles are an abomination unto the Lord but is that the best you got for reaching the lost? To hit them upside the head with Leviticus? A book most Christians don't bother to read? Do you think this gets a "well done my good and faithful servant?" When we stand before Christ do you honestly think He is going to want to hear about who you reused to bake cakes for? Is that what His ministry taught us?
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practicecunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. - 2Corinthians 4: 1-6 (ESV)
The God of this world has blinded the eyes of the lost and we think it is good to shove them to the ground and point fingers? When Jesus looked out on the multitudes He was moved with compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd. What happened to that perspective? I have heard people try to "butch" up Jesus in response to this incident. To claim that He was no shrinking violet. That He called people whitewashed tombs and drove people out of the temple with a whip! Hallelujah - what a twisting of Scripture. Do you know why He chased the money changers out of the temple beloved? Because they were price gouging the unsaved. The pagans would travel from foreign countries and be in need of sacrifices so the moneychangers would jack up the rates at the expense of the lost. That is why His charge to them was they had turned the house of God into a den of robbers! As for the whitewashed tombs or the brood of vipers these were always the religious hypocrites - not the unsaved. You cannot find anywhere Jesus speaking ill towards a sinner. He was a friend to sinners. He touched the lepers no one else would. Yes He said go and sin no more but He did not call her a whore in the process. He did not call her an abomination unto God in the process. When you feel like you want to slap a leather jacket on Jesus Christ remember the prophecy from Isaiah:
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. - Isaiah 53: 7 (ESV)
He willingly laid His life down for you and I. Here however is the hard part to swallow - He also died for the person you can't stand as well. For the people you hate in other countries. For the person who's lifestyle offends you. I do not know the Kleins personally but I can guarantee you that their sin is a stench in the nostrils of Almighty God to the same degree as the couple they refused to serve. Or yours. Or mine. The reason the Apostle Paul stayed so humble is that he never forgot where God found him. So many of us today look at people with such utter disdain. The same disdain we deserved when Jesus saved us I might add. One of the three things the Lord requires of us is to LOVE mercy. I am sorry but there was nothing merciful in refusing to bake a cake for someone because they do not yet share our beliefs. There is no command in the Bible to withhold confectionary sugar and yeast from people who are in sin. What the Kleins did was take verses meant to govern their lives and they applied them to people who think the things of God are foolishness to them. Let's take this deeper theologically. We are saved from judgment by the law through the grace of God. Which then should be preached to the lost? The grace! Not the law! Now you need the law to see what your sin is but to pronounce someone a sinner, refuse to bake them a cake and then think you have shared the Gospel or done your Christian duty is patently silly.
I have heard the other arguments as well. That this is a slippery slope. That today they come for our bakers and tomorrow it will be forced marriage ceremonies. You know what? You may be right. There will come a time when we take a stand for our beliefs. When the pastor will have to decide to give up his 501C3 status. Where he may have to make the tough choice to get out of the bed he has made with Sodom. The persecution is coming. Being asked to bake a cake however is not part of it. That is insulting to Pastor Saeed rotting in an Iranian prison or the 21 Coptic Christians recently beheaded for their faith. Realize however that these are carnal conversations. This world is going to be judged and that includes our country. Our job is not to try and save a dying culture. It is not to prepare the earth for the return of Christ. It is most certainly not to scream sinner while refusing to bake cakes. It is to preach the Gospel to the lost. Yes the Gospel includes a frank and real discussion of law and sin but not in a manner that drives the people away. When the woman at the well asked for the living water Jesus did not say, "Hey I'd like to help you but you're a whore."
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one.For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you." - 1Corinthians 5: 9-13 (ESV)
Take a close look at this portion of Scripture. Paul is correcting the people at the Church of Corinth who had taken his previous instruction to not associate with the sexually immoral to mean people in the world. Paul corrects them and points out their lunacy. If we were to not associate with those in the world who are sinful we would have to leave this world! Paul was speaking about those who claim the mantle of Christ yet persist in their sins. Paul then makes it perfectly clear. We are not to judge the lost but rather those inside of the church. Too many well intended Christians continue to get this backwards in this story. God will judge the lost.
I chose the key verse today because it was the same text chosen in Enfield Connecticut on July 8th, 1741 in a sermon that would transcend generations to this very day. It was delivered by Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards and it was entitled, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." This was during a period known as the Great Awakening. It seemed secularism and spiritual lethargy was creeping into the church. Sound familiar? Edwards had enough and was determined to wake his sleeping congregation up. The choice of this key verse was to show how angry God would get with the people of Israel. How He could just as easily get that angry with the church today as well if we allowed ourselves to be as spiritually apathetic as they did. I looked at this great sermon because it was offered as a defense for why what the Kleins did was OK. That we cannot sugar coat things and must preach sin and repentance to the lost. To which I say you must not understand what Edwards was doing. This sermon, which was not actually typical of Edwards style, was not directed at random people unsaved in the streets. It was directed at the church. His church specifically. Like the Church of Corinth, they were in need of some correction. So he preached fire and brimstone with heaven and hell. And that has absolutely nothing to do with Oregon in 2015. The people who heard Edwards were at his church, not in a bakery. They went there for the Word of God, not a cake. Edwards did not always preach this manner at all. It was actually out of his character completely. He felt his sheep needed a wakeup call so he gave it. In Oregon, we saw the Kleins behaving more like James and John than Pastor Edwards:
And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. - Luke 9: 52-56 (KJV)
The people of the Samaritan village offended James and John. They took the rejection of Christ personally. They had no compassion yet hid behind their knowledge of Scripture and a bloated sense of faux-righteousness. Yet Jesus cuts right to the heart of their impure motives - you do not know what manner of spirit you are! For deeper insight into this let us look at Gill's Exposition of the Bible:
"and said, ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; or do not consider that this is not the true spirit of zeal, but of anger and revenge; and is not agreeable to the spirit of the meek and humble followers of Christ, or to the Spirit of God, and those gifts of his bestowed on them, nor to the spirit of the Gospel dispensation: so good men, for want of attention, may not know sometimes from what spirit they act; taking that for a good one, which is a very bad one; being covered with specious pretenses of love and zeal, and the examples of former saints; not observing the difference of persons; times, and things."