What do you think of these ads?
Thanks to Chad who highlighted this for me. Chad agrees that the message (of Jesus' love and acceptance of all people, wherever they are in their walk) is entirely valid but he questions in his blog if the approach used is divisive and bring dis-unity to the Church (note the capital 'C').
I remember a long time ago (17 years ago? wooo!) talking to a gay couple. I spoke about Jesus' love for me in spite of what I have done and His acceptance of everyone and His desire to have a relationship with everyone. I didn't imply that I approved of homosexuality (I don't approve of LOTS of things *I* have done either!) and I was simply saying that Jesus loves everyone and wants to have a relationship with everyone.
The gay couple said they hoped that I would start a church, because if I did, they would attend it. They wanted to get to know a loving God.
That spoke volumes to me – and as you can see it is still speaking to me today.
People need a place to feel accepted. By accepting people, loving others and sharing with them we help them to know their worth and to reconnect with God. From that place of lowered defenses, where God can reach them, He can work in their lives to shape them and heal them and grow them. He may do it quickly or slowly. That's His call. Our job is to love the people.
We must understand that everyone in this world has sinned. Ok cool. But the bible also says that all sins are equal. Are all sins equal? Yes. But. The bible says that some sins have greater iniquity (consequences) than other sins. It also says that some sins lead to greater sins which eventually result in bondage and then death. All sins are equal – but the consequences can be different.
If we have all sinned, then I can't condemn anyone without condemning myself. I can't reject anyone without rejecting myself. Jesus said in The Lord's prayer, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Our forgiveness of others has a direct influence on His forgiveness of us.
As His love and acceptance of me sunk into me, I became less and less likely to point a finger at other people's sins of any kind.
I am very aware of my own need for help, love and acceptance. If *I* need people's love and acceptance, then I imagine *they* need my love and acceptance too!
As Jesus said, those who have been forgiven much will love much. I have been forgiven much, I feel as if God loves me much… so I try and love much in my own life now. God shared his fruit (love, peace, kindness) with me and now I have fruit to share with others.
In other words, as I have become aware of my own fallen nature, I have been able to accept the fallen nature of the people around me. As I accept God's forgiveness and love of me, then I can see how He would accept and forgive the people around me too.
The church has several goals IMO:
- Jesus didn't come to heal the healthy, He came to heal the sick. We must embrace everyone no matter how sick.
- However a good shepherd will see if there is someone in the flock whose intention is actually bad and should take steps to evict that person who is preying on the flock. That is a wolf in sheep clothing.
- To build up the people who attend. Help them find meaning in life (where they fit in the body). Give them an identity as God's children. Share our love, peace, patience, kindness (the fruit) with them… until they begin showing their own fruit and then are able to share their fruit
- To have a positive spiritual impact on society around us. This happens by praying for the city and country you live in
- To grow God's Kingdom by either by supporting missions or by being a missionary
The church exists for it's members and also for it's non-members.
That website could perhaps have been better named "Jesus loves you" or "You are welcome here" rather than "Rejection hurts". A positive message is more effective than a negative one.
On the topic of the adverts being divisive, I prefer to see the website being pro-Jesus rather than anti other churches. However, by having an open forum for the hurt to vent their feelings, it's inevitable that the hurt people will vent their hurt. Hiding the pain that people have felt is not useful. Bringing things out helps us all learn about how our choices have hurt others.
And yet… we should not actively choose to work against other churches who don't see things the way we do. We are all one Church (capital 'C') and we are all one body with Christ as our head. Unity is important. But diversity is equally as important.
I'd like to hear your own opinions on these adverts and on the role of a church.