Oklahoma State University is being forced to deal with a traveling freak show commonly known as the Westboro Baptist Church, while trying to grieve the loss of two members of its coaching staff. For some reason, this tragic event is being used by this group to promote their God Hates You movement.
The entire doctrine of the Westboro Baptist Church is based upon the belief that tragic events experienced in US are the direct result of God’s judgment against this country because of sins like homosexuality. In essence, this Church believes that sin running rampant in the streets has caused God’s great sniper rifle in the sky to focus its scope on the United States. Their belief has turned into a dogmatic, hatred filled religion that spends zero time sharing the love of God to the world, yet 100% of the time preaching the sermon that “God Hates Gays.”
Mainstream Christianity certainly does not fall in line behind the Westboro gang, yet it is not uncommon for preachers on Sunday to blame God’s judgment for events like Hurricane Katrina, or on a smaller scale someone dealing with a disease such as cancer.
This brings us to the central focal point of sin. What is sin? Webster’s defines sin as “transgression of the law of God.” Thousands of years ago God created the Law (read Leviticus) in which an outline was created as a guide and details what acts were considered sinful by God. When an act of sin was committed, there was also a specific offering that was created to bring to God for the forgiveness of that sin. Throughout the Old Testament, the times in which the Israelites fell into an unrepented sinful lifestyle, judgment soon followed. It is this judgment of God that still infiltrates many of Christianity’s core beliefs today.
The problem with this theology is that is both incorrect and illogical. Let’s get one thing out of the way first, and it may shock some people. The world is full of sin, and to expect anything less than that is foolish and unbiblical. Christianity cannot expect righteousness from something that is inherently unrighteous.
To the religious leaders that were contemporaries of Jesus, this issue proved to be a stumbling block that was beyond their comprehension. In Luke 5 the Pharisees asked Jesus why he dared dirty himself by eating with sinners. Jesus’ response in verse 22 states, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus understood that his entire mission was to reach out to those who were unrighteous. Simply, Jesus knew that sinners sinned, and these sinners need redemption from that sin.
2000 years later, the issues of sin still creates a dilemma within the church that seems just as trivial and hotly contested as it was between Jesus and the Pharisees. Is humanity still being judged for its sin like the nation of Israel in the Old Testament? Are the preachers correct and the horrific tragedies this nation has experienced really a direct result of God’s judgment?
The problem here is that many parts of Christianity have lost entire meaning of the Bible and very reason Jesus came. There is one word that sums up this issue and that is “Atonement.” This is a religious word that stands against the rhetoric of many judgment spewing preachers.
The atonement simply means that Jesus’ death paid the price for all of humanity as one final sacrigice. Passages like Romans chapter 8 speak of Jesus death giving life to all those who belief in him and freeing them from having to pay a price for their sin. The most famous scripture in the bible, John 3:16 states that all who believe in Jesus will have everlasting life with God. Jesus took it all, every sin. All of it was placed on him to atone for all of humanity.
When Jesus stepped out into his ministry, his first sermon is found in Luke 4. In this chapter, Jesus quotes from the book of Isaiah and states, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 61 states, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,”
If you compare the two texts, Jesus leaves out the key phrase “the day of vengeance of our God.” Jesus did not come to spread wrath and judgment. He came to address the issue of sin by paying a horrific price so that humanity would be able to once again be clean in the eyes of God. This is what enabled Paul to write in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that through Christ Christians are considered by God to be righteous. Because of Jesus, the wrath of God had been satisfied.
Now, sin is still very much sin today, just as it was in Jesus’ day. God is still a very black and white, right and wrong God. There may be preachers who preach that we have to accept everyone for who they are and what they do. They offer a left-winged approach at Christianity that is just as flawed as the Westboro Church. Jesus did not tiptoe through the tulips; kissing babies and making everyone feel good about their lives. Instead, he addressed sin for what it was and told people to repent. (See John 5:14) Jesus hates sin and did not shy away from confronting it, yet still managed to love the sinner. If you don’t agree, then check out Matthew 21:12 Jesus message was never one of “accepting people for who they were and what they did.” The message of Christ was love and repentance. Jesus loved humanity IN SPITE of the very flaws that defined it.
That is the essence of atonement and the entire point of the cross. If someone really wants to be a Christian, to be like Christ, then it is that very message that must be embraced without altering it to agree with a certain political agenda, or religious philosophy.
If a church like Westboro Baptist has issues with sin running rampant, then they should look at the moral failure in this nation as a direct result of their failure to do their job as a church. If righteousness is achieved through the message of the Cross, then why is it the world’s fault for not achieving righteousness on their own? Is it the sinners fault for sinning, or the churches fault for not taking the message of love and repentance to the sinner?
If a church has a problem with the moral decline of their city, state, or nation, then stop beating the snot out of people for acting like what they are. If you don’t like it, get out there and change it. And you cannot change it with a false doctrine that stands against everything Jesus preached and died for. You want to build a church, reach a city and change a nation, then focus all your passion on the people committing the sins. Those are the ones that God is crying out of for. Those are the ones that Jesus died for.