It is no secret that over the past few days America has been captivated by the stories coming out Pakistan that the world's most wanted terrorist has been killed. The heroic efforts of our armed forces, and more specifically Navy team 6 that carried out the final steps of the mission have been replaying on the news and in each of our minds. If you are my age or older then no doubt you remember exactly where you were on the horrible day 10 years ago when our country was forced to it's knees in devastation and prayer. When the news broke out that the leading man of the organization responsible had been killed, our hearts as Americans swelled up with pride, and a sense of relief swept the nation, and globe.
Let me backtrack to a little over a month ago. I am sure that everyone is aware of the book "Love Wins" by Rob Bell that came out earlier this year. I mean come on, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook exploded with people chiming in with their thoughts of Bell's take on Heaven and Hell. I read countless posts from people going crazy over the fact that he was spreading a message, whether he realized it or not, of universalism to the world. Here is a man who Pastors thousands of people, and has thousands more read his books, and this is the message that they are getting. Don't get me wrong. I definitely chimed in with my thoughts. But something has got ahold of me over the last couple of days.
We often hear it said; "Love the sinner, and hate the sin."
I couldn't agree with that statement more than I do now, but frankly, I don't know very many people that do that. It seems to me that as a collective body, we have engaged in a Love Hate Masquerade. If you're familiar with Mardi Gras at all then you probably know what a masquerade is but for those that don't, by definition it is "A costume party at which masks are worn." Google it if you want more info. I came across a very interesting definition for the term Masquerade in Webster. It say's that a masquerade is "A disguise or false outward show; a pretense." Forgive me if this offends anyone but it reminds me of the love some of us have for the sinner.
I overheard a conversation not too long ago where an individual in the church used some very negative words towards a homosexual person, that had come to church! Although the words were said behind that persons back, it still convicted me. What have I said in the past that openly displayed a hatred towards the sinner and not the sin? Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15 that "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses." Correct me if I'm wrong but it doesn't seem to leave any room for debate there. And yet at times it seems like we still have hate masquerading as love in our churches. We have to remember that love does win when it comes to soul winning! How can we expect to grow a church, win souls, see people filled with the Holy Ghost, baptized in Jesus name and turn from all the sin if we keep it in front of them the entire time?
A friend of mine made a point last week in all the talk about Osama. In reference to Apostolics everywhere publicly praising the fact that he was finally killed, my friend said "I wonder how all of these pentecostals would have reacted to Saul of Tarsus?" That hit me between the eyes. Before he became the greatest apostle in history, he was a killer of God's people and yet he thought he was doing justice. Fortunately for him he experienced a conversion, but yet a modern day killer doesn't deserve that chance? We get so offended at the actions of Rob Bell and verbally attack him for his false theology, and simultaneously praise the notion that Osama is dead, but in ignorance, we're praising that another soul is in hell. I know must of us would never get the chance to witness to the worlds most wanted terrorist, but the fact of the matter is, we see sinners day in and day out that we look at through judgmental eyes, and treat them exactly the same way. We have a call to fulfill God's plan and purpose in our lives! He came to seek and save the lost, and he commanded us to go and teach them! Not with the mindset of a Pharisee, but with the love of Christ. When it comes to sinners, they need to be loved. In Hebrews 10:17 God forgets the sins and iniquities, and gives them a fresh start. We can't have hate masquerading as love in our churches. We have to take off the mask that appears to be Jesus, and show them the love that is Jesus.