Recently, I was talking with a friend about a church billboard sign that said something to this effect, “You are gay, you are welcome. God loves you.” As I was hashing that concept out, several thoughts surfaced.
First of all, without argument, the latter part of that statement is true. God does love us, relentlessly, passionately, eternally.
But you see, the problem with that billboard statement is not that God loves us but that it implies that
1. God’s love saves us.
2. God’s love overlooks sin.
3. God’s love justifies sin.
4. There is no consequence for sin.
The honest truth here is that the very same God that loves us with all of His being will forever be apart from many that He loves for one reason and one reason only. Sin.
The very thing that sign says is welcome IS NOT welcome in the presence of God. Yes, He is love but love hates many things…all of which are born of sin.
Here’s the kicker. That sign specifically says “gay” but it could just as easily read a liar, an adulteress, a thief, a gossip, a murderer, a glutton, covetous, rebellious, serving other gods, etc.
The misconception here is that being “gay” isn’t sin, when, yes it is.
And again, the greater misconception here is that God’s love saves us, when it doesn’t. Yes, John 3:16 does say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Looking closely, we understand that His love isn’t the key to our salvation but rather our belief in His love. His love for us birthed a Savior but in order to be saved, we must believe in Him, Jesus. And Jesus is the Word (the bible) that was made flesh, and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth. And the Word that says, “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.” (Leviticus 18:22)…that’s Jesus.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
(Disclaimer: the above list is inconclusive.)
Romans 8:9 tells us, that Jesus was the first-born among many sons and daughters but in order for that to happen, we must receive Him. John 1:12-13, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
We must be born again…of God, through Jesus. Knowing God loves us is not enough. We must respond to His love.
Love is like the interstate to salvation but our belief (our faith) in Jesus, the vehicle. No one comes to Father except through the Son.
But what about 1 Peter 4:8? “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Well, James 5:20 makes the same statement. “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
In both passages, we see love in action. The God kind of love doesn’t hide our sin but seeks to turn us from it (that’s what repentance is), saving us from death and covering over a multitude of sins.
At first glance, we might think that to cover over sin means to shield it from judgment or to keep it from view. But it doesn’t. Covering over a multitude of sin in no way allows us to “keep our sin” or to “continue” in it, making it a lifestyle that God is OK with. That word cover actually comes from the word “klepto”, meaning to steal away or to take away by theft.
Our Jesus, a thief? Well, yes.
A thief takes what isn’t rightfully theirs, correct? Did Jesus sin? No…yet He desired to bear our sin, taking it from us and all of the consequences that come with it.
Matthew 24:43, “But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.”
We can either repent now, giving up our sin willingly or later, when He comes, He will find it and as Matthew says, our house will be broken up.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:18
All of us are guilty and none of us are worthy to stand in His presence. (Ezra 9:15)
Being accepted socially and a warm welcome to a church doesn’t make us nearer to God. There is only one way to come near to Him.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13