It happens every so often. Some “big name” person informs the world that they have accepted Jesus as their Savior. They get ridiculed by the popular press, but cheered by Christians. Christians cheer almost as if this conversion is all that is needed to cause the whole world to turn to Christ. They almost make the celebrity into an idol. Then, a couple of weeks into their walk with Christ, they mess up. Big time. Publicly. Then the naysayers come out and start attacking this new, immature Christian for making a mistake. The criticism is merciless with the critics noting that the celebrity must not be a real Christian because of that action. The celebrity, stung by the criticism after a mistake, slowly slinks off into the world of non-Christians, sometimes renouncing their faith.
How quickly do we expect new believers to become mature Christians? The way some people respond to those who make a commitment of faith, it’s as if they expect the new Christian to lead a life of sinless perfection from the moment of conversion even when the long term Christian doesn’t lead such a life. And should a long term or new Christian commit a sin, out come the long knives as we all turn on them. Instead of showing love and mercy towards those caught in sin, we become hateful, attacking our brothers and sisters. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.” (1 John 2:9-10)
When Jesus gave instructions on recognizing Christians He talked about the love they should have for each other. He didn’t talk about doctrinal purity. He didn’t talk about sinless perfection. He talked about the love we should have for each other. John was dealing with people who seemed to have set themselves up as judge and jury over who was and who wasn’t a follower of Christ. John reminds these self appointed morals arbiters that if you claim to walk in the light of Christ but you don’t have love for your brothers and sisters, you are in the darkness of sin. The Christian life is not about inspecting fruit, it is about bearing fruit.
Today we seem to pick those special sins that God can’t figure out how to forgive and hate people who commit those sins. If Jesus forgave those who put Him to death, are there really any sins that anyone could commit that are worse than that? Our job is to love people, especially brothers and sisters in Christ. God has enough grace so that He can draw them into a life without those sins we want to attack. God has enough grace even to forgive those sins that I commit. If God shows that grace, how can I do anything different?
Oh Lord, help me love my brothers and sisters in Christ without reservations.