After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. - Acts 18: 1-4 (ESV)
Perhaps the greatest demonstration of the love of God is that while we were yet sinners, He sent His only Son to die for our transgressions. It sadly seems that many Christians today treat this truism as a trite Bible verse. Something old and commonplace. Nothing worthy of truly reflecting on as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Even though we are commanded to love mercy we act merciless towards the people who need the Gospel the most. Despite the fact that the Bible implores us to do justly, we confuse the justice of this world with the justness of a holy God. With so many speaking about grace within the church it is staggering to see so many operate without any in how they treat the world. Beloved, the wrath of God is coming. There is no revival that will stay it. There will be a time when the swift justice of the righteousness of a holy God will be poured out on a sinful world, of which we are a part in it. There will be a time when He will wield His winnowing fork and separate the chaff from the wheat. When the tares will be uprooted. When the goats and sheep will know full well who they are. While these truths should always give us pause to remember about the fear of falling into the hands of the living God it seems we keep forgetting one thing. That time is not now.
He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" - Matthew 13: 24-30 (ESV)
This is the Parable of the Weeds. Note that the time of the harvest has not yet come. It seems however as if many Christians today not only think it has come but they want to be the winnowing fork in His hands. They want to light the match that burns up the sinful tares that are growing up all around them. Except we forget that we too were once just as sinful and just as much a tare. We too deserved the full wrath of God but He saved us. In another parable Jesus taught about the man who was forgiven a huge debt, some estimate in the millions of dollars. Yet when he saw someone who owed him just a little, he had the man thrown in debtors prison. The parable of the unmerciful servant is being played out in bakeries, florist shops and pizzerias across this country. We are the unmerciful servant. The sad difference is that the debtor doesn't actually owe us anything. We want him thrown in debtors prison because we perceive he owes Christ something. Like the unmerciful servant, we forget how much we have been forgiven in the pursuit of punishment for someone else's sin. In doing so we also forget that the harvest time has not yet come. Now is the age of grace. Now is the time to preach the Gospel to the lost so that they might come to the foot of the cross for the forgiveness we seem to so easily forget we joyfully have received as well.
I am not going to rehash in great detail here the stories because I have written about this several times before. About how a baker in Oregon and a florist in Washington refused to provide their services, violating the laws of their state, because the customers were gay and the product was for their wedding. Recently now, there has also been a Pizzeria in Indiana who stated publicly that they would not cater a gay wedding, leading to an avalanche of publicity and misplaced outrage yet again. While I am not sure who would cater their wedding from a pizzeria to begin with, the larger point again is the absolute hate expressed by Christians in supporting this alleged Christian stance.
I can hear the objections already - they said they loved the people, just that they couldn't participate in their wedding because of their biblical values. This is the essential defense offered by the store owners and those who defend them. Let's unpack this defense using the plumb line for our lives - the Bible. I want to deal first with the "participation issue." Baking a cake does not mean that you have partaken of the sins of those who are getting married. That is a patently absurd argument. Think about it logically for a second. Everyone you provide a service for is a sinner - everyone.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. - 1John 1: 8 (ESV)
To apply this twisted logic, if you provide flowers for the funeral of an adulterer you too have committed adultery? To cater a wedding for a couple who were living together prior to the wedding is to partake in their fornication? To bake a cake for someone getting remarried but without biblical cause for their first divorce makes the baker an adulterer too? Seriously? What Bible are you reading? There is not one verse that supports this ridiculous notion of sin transference. I saw someone post today the notion that if a gay couple had approached Jesus to make them a bed because He was a carpenter that He would have said no? What? Where in the Bible do you see a Jesus who turns sinners away? He was a friend to sinners! That was what drove the religious folks nuts! Prior to His three year ministry He was a carpenter by trade so if someone came to Him to build something, He would probably build it. And preach the Gospel to them. Did He call the woman caught in adultery a whore or did He save her? Too many Christians are standing around sinners with rocks in their hands and claim to be doing it for Christ!
Secondly, this has nothing to do with biblical values. This is just the lie we tell ourselves to make our hatred seem more pious than it really is. Are there bible verses about homosexuality? Absolutely. Yet let's take a look at who else is on the "do not bake" list:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. - 1Corinthians 6: 9-11 (ESV)
So do not hold up your self-righteous biblical values if you are not also refusing to service anyone on this list. By the way, this list is pretty comprehensive beloved. This covers all of us. There would be no one left to service. That's the point! Without the blood of Christ we stand no chance! Do not lose sight of the concluding verse either. God is reminding us that this is exactly who we were before being washed by the blood of Jesus. That fact should be a sobering reminder to approach the lost with some humility, instead of with disdain. It is time we had an adult conversation about the real problem here and that is the idolatry of America. That is what is driving the hatred we see from so many Christians. We see the laws being passed and we watch too much Fox News and suddenly we think that we should be beating our plowshares into swords and take up arms against the godless sinners in this country. Except there is nowhere in Scripture that tells us to do so. Nowhere.
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. - Colossians 4: 5-6 (NKJV)
I have expounded on this verse before but it is still so powerful for this situation. Do you honestly believe that pointing our judgmental finger at someone walking in darkness and calling them a sinner is "redeeming the time." As we already covered the age of grace we are in will end. By the looks of it, it will end pretty soon. We have from this moment until then to redeem the time for the lost. To season our speech with grace. To walk in wisdom towards those on the outside of salvation looking in. Do we realize this today beloved? They are on the outside of eternal life looking in and what do we show them? Can we live with ourselves knowing someone will suffer eternally and we had a chance to proclaim the grace of Jesus Christ to them but we chose instead to hurl the law of Moses at their feet? We had a chance to show them John 3:16 with our lives but instead we quoted Leviticus 20:13 to them with our forked tongues? If you can shrug that off then I do not know if the Holy Spirit resides within you because He leads us into all truth and the truth is this:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. - 2Peter 3: 9 (ESV)
The one we hate the most God still loves. The one that violates our conscience - God still wants to save. Please, do not quote to me bible verses that are designed to speak to our walk, while you are applying them to other people. Not only that but applying them to people who still think the things of God are utter foolishness to them. Nobody should be able to offend our biblical values because they are supposed to apply to our lives. It is only the scheme of Satan to enlist the aid of Christians to push the very people away from Christ that need Him the most!