my thoughts on being more like Jesus
Growing up in church, I heard versions of the phrase ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ far more often than anyone would really like.
I want to talk about that phrase today.
A few summers ago, I went to Uganda on a mission trip.
The main purpose of the trip was to serve as a vessel for God’s love, to share His relentless affection with the many homeless boys who, for most of their lives, had not received enough of it. Because I was there to love, I doled and doted each of those kids with infinite kindness and care; I shared freely every ounce of space within my heart.
I did everything with them.
I listened to them, and I walked the streets of the slums with them. I danced to their music and shared ice cream with them. I held hands with them, and I was offended when others discriminated against them. I sobbed in prayer for them, and I begged God to bless them and protect them. I wanted everyone to love them, and treat them fairly.
I was loving them in the way that God calls us to love everyone.
See, that’s the thing, He really wants us to love every single person infinitely.
Without a bit of context, it doesn’t seem odd or difficult at all to unabashedly pour out affection for a bunch of young kids, but in Uganda, the many homeless boys that occupy the streets are, without a doubt, the lowest of all the lows in the eyes of the country’s society. They are grubby and dirty and not to be trusted. Police and guards watch them closely and take them away. They are not liked, and they are certainly not loved.
They are the tax collectors and the prostitutes of biblical times.
They are the former slaves in a post-Civl War, pre-Civil Rights America.
In today’s society, they are the LGBT population, the young woman walking out of a Planned Parenthood clinic, and the Arab man who is denied a seat on a flight he booked months ago.
None of them are welcomed; you cross the street to avoid them.
So, when you sit with all your church group friends, and you guys complain for an hour about the desecration of our society because two men held hands in a soup commercial, tell me this, how are you ‘loving the sinner’?
That’s what I just can’t quite figure out.
I understand, there are a great many of us out there, loving the sinner, loving everyone. But it seems there are just as many out there using the phrase, who don’t seem to get past the comma; they’re stuck on ‘hate the sin.’
I’m tired of that phrase; I think it’s all wrong. If I’m completely honest, I mostly find it a way for close minded, bigoted people who call themselves Christians to get around the whole concept of being called to love everyone.
You can’t pick and choose though, and if that’s the case, you’re doing a shoddy job of veiling your very sinful hate. Congratulations, in the process of judging another’s sins, you’ve committed yet another of your own.
I’m quitting that phrase for good. It’s no longer in my Lexicon; I won’t understand it if you use it, and I won’t begin to try becuase those you’re pretending to love deserve more than that. Instead, I suggest we make the phrase much easier to say, to write, to read, and perhaps, even to do; I suggest we just ‘love the sinner.’ I suggest we open up our hearts to those around us, that we see them first as the lovely humans they are, and 459th as the sinner that they inevitably are, as well.
I suggest, as crazy as it seems, we just love.