In Malaysia, a family has been desperately seeking their son, a student who left home 8 years ago to pursue a degree in Medicine at the University of Dublin. In 2009 Ariff Alfian Rosli was reported missing to Malaysian authorities by his father. He is now 28. Controversy erupted over the past week when photos of Ariff surfaced on the internet. They were of him, dressed in traditional costume being . He had gone missing because he feared the repercussions of his marriage. In [url= statement to The Irish Times he said, "Returning home under the current situation is untenable . . . as I fear for my safety there". In Malaysia, the penalty is apparently 20 years imprisonment not to mention the religious and public persecution he would face. Fear drove this man into hiding. Needless to say the internet has been abuzz with commentaries, mostly of a condemning and hateful nature predominantly from people who claim religious affiliations and evoke the name of Allah. Is judgement and anger the correct reaction? On the other end of the scale, another Islamic group has begun a campaign to bring Arif back to Malaysia to "save his faith". Of course, those of us who know how Muslim authorities work know that this means "rehabilitation". The person will be kept in a guarded hostel and "re-educated". Those undergoing rehabilitation will not be permitted to leave until the so called wrongs are recanted. Of course, this is all Islam but I found the reactions interesting because it isn't very far from how Christians would often react. We often react strongly towards sin, especially those that involve same sex union. We do at times react in anger and with judgement. We also often take it upon ourselves to rehabilitate the wrongdoer and save them from their sin. I think both are simply religiosity. Mind you, I am by means condoning sin, I am talking about how we react to another's sin. In the first place we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and we would be quite dumb to think otherwise (1 John 1:8). If we think we are not, then we are simply being spiritually prideful (James 4:6) and this would put us in direct opposition with God. Secondly, a person isn't lost because of sin. Rather, I think a person sins because he or she is lost. Being lost is not a consequence of sinning but rather we sin because we are walking in our lost and fallen nature. Unless and until we receive Jesus into our lives to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, we do not make the turn away from our sin nature. It takes submission to God first before we can resist sin (James 4:7) and then we go through a lifetime of seeking closeness to God (James 4:8). Humility, submission, obedience and intimacy; all expressed in James 4, verses 6 through 8, really summarises much of our Christian walk. When we know God, we will have His laws written into our hearts and knowing Jesus makes us His (Hebrews 8:10, Jeremiah 24:7). We know for certain that same sex union is an abomination to God and they are not acceptable. Yet, just as we are all saved from our sins - Jesus' sacrifice at the Cross covers that sin also. An Act of Love overcame sin, overcame death. God's ultimate plan against sin and death culminates in one amazing sacrifice motivated by love. So we say God is Love. In Psalm 119: 136, the psalmist writes, "Rivers of water run down from my eyes, Because men do not keep Your law." It wasn't hate. It was not judgement. It was simply sorrow and remorse over the sins of other men. If we don't feel the sorrow and remorse for another's sin, I submit we are not aligned God's heart. If we read about death and destruction from natural disasters; or when come across someone who is sick and dying and if we do not feel compassion but instead judgement welling up to blame people for their own misfortune - are we not off? Where then is Jesus in us? Where is the tenderness of Christ in our hearts? How would Jesus react to the sin of same sex unions? I think He would weep because we are lost and without a Shepherd (John 11:35, Matthew 9:36). There would be sighing and crying over the world's abominations and those of us who also sigh and cry, have been marked (Ezekiel 9:5-6) or in this age, sealed by the Holy Spirit to share Jesus' compassion. Jesus would react with an overwhelming depth of love and compassion for the sinner. Should we not know the same love Jesus feels? Remember it says in 1 John 4:8 that if we don't know love, we don't know God. We should react with love towards the sinner. Tender and forgiving towards the person. We highlighted earlier how Ariff feared. The fruit of judgement, persecution and hatred is fear. We know fear is not from God. Fear drives people away. Consider now if we don't judge, don't persecute but instead love - perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). If Ariff knew the Father's Love perhaps he might not have sought the wrong sort of love with another man. If we gave him love, perhaps he would not fear but would instead give Jesus a chance. Love and compassion forgives. There is time yet for the lost to be saved. Time yet for people to turn towards God. Time to work the harvest and we have to do it through love. This time however is short. A month ago a Muslim girl sought out one of my pastors. She had a dream where a Man dressed in brilliant white visited her. She knew right away He was Jesus. In the dream Jesus told her He was coming soon and that she had to look for a certain pastor visiting a church near her. She was told that there she would hear the Truth. Particular details were given to her in the dream that enabled her to seek the church and find my pastor. She heard his testimony and converted to Christianity that same day. No one proselytised her. Jesus Himself did. She is in her mid-twenties and if we assume that "soon" would most likely be in her lifetime - we could say that Jesus is returning within the next 50 years or so. Rejoice. Till then let us love one another the right way.
It is very sad and troubling to see many things that are going on today. God is love, no disagreement there. What God commands, is still the same, however society desires to live. The excuses are many today, and the reasons to continue in sin. We come to God in repentance, willing to forsake those sins that hinder our relationship with Him. Jesus Christ came to make propitiation for sin, to reconcile us to God. Save us 'from' our sins. We repent of them, and come to God through Jesus Christ. It is sad to see the compromises christendom has made. It is sad to see man-made religions everywhere.
One has to wonder how much longer God is going to allow things to go like they are going. The day of accounting comes. The day when Jesus Christ returns to gather His elect, and destroy all the works of sin and darkness in this earth. There will be much to answer for. I believe christendom has corrupted the gospel, and the scripture, and is grieving the Holy Spirit of God greatly. Scripture speaks of a 'falling away', 'wax cold', 'turn from', and we are seeing all of this. To the point of the issue now, of same-sex clergy, and lifestyles.
One thing we can all agree on. Gods word gave us warnings. He gave them in love too. Try as we may we can not change those warnings, because God is faithful to His word, and to Himself. This has always been the real issue. God gave warning to Adam. It was the responsibility of Adam and Eve to heed. Satan convinced them God meant something else. Even that God was somehow keeping something from them. The same is happening today. The day of reckoning comes for us all. I need to focus on mine.
Soul-searching blog. But I need to be sure I am obeying His word. God help any of those He may 'give them up'. Yep, He still does. For the same reasons. Thanks for the subject. God Bless.
Good blog. I like your statement "If we don't feel the sorrow and remorse for another's sin, I submit we are not aligned God's heart." I agree that hoping for another person to be punished for his sins is wrong. It is a terrible thing to fail in this life, and not recieve our eternal reward. It shouldn't make us happy if someone is going in the wrong direction. I disagree with your final sentence, pinning down the time when Jesus will return to within 50 years. Matthew 24:36 says no one knows when that will happen. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." Thanks for an interesting post. - bibleguy64
I'm going to forward your blog to my son, Doulos. Even now, his heart is breaking over a young man he was in a Christian ministry with during his teenage years. This young man is preparing to go through hormone treatments and later an operation. :(
Yes, he has gotten the reaction you speak of, from Christians and it has resulted in him cutting off all communication with nearly every Christian he knows. That is NOT a good thing! Though it was breaking my son's heart, he has attempted to respond in love. Don't get me wrong, he is not telling his friend that what he is doing is right or that it does not matter to God. He is trying to say that although he believes his friend is wrong in what he is doing, he still cares about his friend. It is hard but oh how my son knows that the door must NOT be shut!
The love Jesus showed toward people like the adulterous woman or Zacchaeus for example, did not mean He endorsed their sin. Why do we think it will in our case?
I have paused and let this blog seep in a little. It is will said and presents a problem with many that claim Christ, or at least the religion.
How do you express love and acceptance of the person without also condoning sin, or the impression of condoning?
Personally I don't think Jesus ever worried about that question. He preached the Kingdom of God, ate and drink with the worse of society.
He lived and expressed God's love through his life and words always.
I work with a man who goes to a Church that opens its doors not to Christians but to sinners: everyone and anyone. They don't ask about sexual preference or if your a thief, liar, murderer. They share the Gospel of God, the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Love and reconciliation.
We are often quick to point out the sins of this world and slow to express the love of God.
Good to hear from you Brother,
Good blog. I agree that love is the answer! It is the love and the goodness of God that brings men to repentance. I think sometimes we forget that although He uses us to tell men the good news of God's answer to sin, only the Holy Spirit can remove the blinders of the devil and open their eyes to see the truth of how sin is destroying them. We must not judge and condemn, but grieve over the sin in the lives of others because we too are subject to the sin nature.
God hates sin because He sees that it is destroying men's lives and will ultimately separate them from Him for eternity unless they accept His solution for sin, the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin's wages is death and it pays off by destroying individuals, friends, and families. God loved the sinful world so much that He gave His Son so that by believing in Him sinners would be saved from perishing from sin sickness and eternal separation from Him. They can instead be reconciled to Him through Christ and receive eternal life by grace through faith.
If we love God then we will love what God loves and hate what He hates We must hate the sin but love the sinner enough to tell them the Good News. This kind of love can only grow in us as a fruit from abiding in Christ. This love is powerful and alive, freely flowing from the Holy Spirit through us.
God bless you for helping us see the truth. May we all pray for Ariff and all who are perishing in sin sickness of all types.