Friday when we were in line to get our gear for white water rafting, my son Matt and our son-for-the-summer Dakota were talking about Dakota being in the Navy. Dakota signed up for the Navy this past week and goes to Great Lakes December 11. Matt said something about Dakota having a gun. Dakota said, “I’m not going to have a gun.” Matt said, “What do you mean no gun? Of course you’re going to have a gun on the boat.” I wish I had been standing with them to see the look on the guy’s face who was just overhearing the “having a gun on the boat” part of the conversation. Matt looked at him and said, “Oh, not this boat. Dakota’s going into the Navy.”
Hearing part of a story can lead us to conclusions that are not accurate. If Matt hadn’t cleared things up, we may have had the ATF, FBI, TSA, and all those other initials there to meet us on the New River thinking Matt and Dakota had a gun on the raft.
When society looks down on Jesus because Christians look like nothing but a group of judgmental and hypocritical people, society is only understanding part of the story. In last week’s sermon I said if you were not a Christian then you were an enemy of God. That’s not popular. That sounds judgmental. But that’s what Paul wrote to the Romans in chapter 5, verse 10: For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Paul is talking about those who are now justified through faith in Jesus (vs. 1). Everyone is not a friend of God. We are not a friend of God until we say yes to Jesus, and then it’s Jesus who calls us friend. And when Jesus calls us friend, we become a friend of God. Yet in spite of being an enemy of God, God still loves the world. You could say, God loves His enemies! (Just as He tells us to love ours.)
Christians don’t automatically become perfect when they become a friend (aka child) of God. We will still make our own mistakes. We will at times be a stumbling block for those who are not Christians. If they would understand the whole story, that we are not perfect, but that God is working and continues to work on us our entire lives, they might better understand our hypocrisy. The Bible also says I tell others they have a speck of sawdust in their eye, while I’ve got a plank in mine. Matthew 7:5 says, You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Preachers look especially hypocritical because our job is to call each person to repentance. All the while, we know we have our own sin that God’s dealing with and we are being called to repentance just as everyone else is. So we’re not telling you how we live, but how the Bible says we should all live.
And that’s closer to hearing the entire conversation.