Last night I got a surprise phone call from my former pastor at Sistersville. He’s the pastor that God used to put three of us from the United Methodist Church in Sistersville into the ministry (two of us full time). He’s now the pastor of a church 2 hours away in Clarksburg. He happened to be in Cumberland to visit someone in the federal prison. There’s quite a bit to go through to visit someone in prison. After completing the paperwork, having a background check, and being approved, you then must go certain days and certain hours. You are not allowed to take cell phones in. There are lots of rules. The prison web site had the days and hours of visitation listed. As it turns out, there are two parts to the prison and visitation yesterday was not for the part my pastor friend’s friend was in. He drove two hours and didn’t accomplish what he set out to accomplish. The good news for me was he stopped by to visit me for an hour and a half in Short Gap.
I understand the prison has to have certain methods and procedures and can’t make exceptions even when someone has gone so far out of their way as my friend did. They can’t let certain people in during off hours and then not let others in. That wouldn’t be fair. They lay out the plan you must follow and if you don’t – well, you don’t get in. You don’t make the rules, the prison does.
There are some people today who believe God doesn’t have any rules, methods, or procedures. There are some people who think that Christians must do whatever it takes to get the world to love us, even if that means ignoring sin and repentance. Some people think the only sin is the sin of judgementalism that we commit when we call people to repent of their sin.
Remember, our job is not to get the world to love us. Our job is to love the world. And telling people that sin is not sin is not love – even if they hate you for it. God calls each person to repent of their sin, ask for forgiveness, and have their/our sins blotted out by the shed blood of Jesus. That’s the plan we must follow.