I think that a good by-product of the evolution of our culture has been the shift away from the perspective of, “If people aren’t just like me in every regard, something is wrong with them” and the shift toward optimistically looking for the good in people, trying to relate to them, and embracing them as equals…. even if they are very different from us. I truly believe that an optimistic and uplifting attitude toward our fellow man is a disposition we should all strive to attain, especially in the Church.
But at the same time, I fear that many Christ-professing denominations, churches and individuals have taken a good desire to see the good in others to an unbiblical extreme; in the sense of, they are affirming behaviors (and positions of the heart) in people’s lives that the Bible actually defines as sinful. In other words, I fear that sects of the Church have begun to take on such a man-centered worldview that they have replaced the worship of the Soul of God with the worship of the soul of humanity.
What I’m seeing among these groups and peoples is a whole lot of talk about the beauty of humanity, but very little talk about the beauty of God. I see a massive emphasis on the feelings, sensitivities and desires of the human soul, but very little emphasis on the feelings, sensitivities and desires of the Divine. I’m seeing a very loud and vocal call on the Church to sympathize with and serve the needs of the outcasts, but silence in regard to honoring God by abiding in the teaching of His Word.
I guess the point that I’m trying to relay is that from my perspective (which is by no means infallible), it seems that the straying from the Doctrine of God (specifically in regard to the the non-negotiable-ness of the presence of repentance in the Christian heart), is being fueled by a worshipful focus on the human soul. In their desperation to see the good things in people, some have come to reject what God says is not good in people. In their longings to see human community flourish and the marginalized to no longer be marginalized, they have created a” theology” about the human heart (namely, that it is mostly ‘good’) which contradicts the teaching of the Word of God. They have taken the truth that all men and women are image-bearers of God and have exaggerated it to the exclusion of the truth that all men and women are also by nature children of wrath with hearts that are dead to God (Ephesians 2:1-3).
- Apart from the grace of God in Christ, Jesus says that we are evil (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13).
- Apart from the grace of God in Christ, Jesus says that it is out of our hearts that come all sorts of evils (Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21-23).
- Jesus says that we must repent from sin (which arises from our own hearts) and follow Him or we will perish (Luke 13:3).
The Scriptures are adamant in both old and new testaments that although we are made in the image of God, we have all rejected the honor of reflecting His image and chosen to worship ourselves. Our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and in the eyes of God, none of us does anything good (Romans 3:12). Sure, we all do good things on a horizontal level in relation to our fellow men, but even those things are not wholly good in the sight God if there is no regard in the heart of the person for God. The truth of The Bible, the truth of Jesus, is that apart from His regenerating work in our hearts, we are at our very core not good. So a misdirected worship of the not good (humanity) results in the discrepancies about what the Good (God) declares to be acceptable or not acceptable.
I must also say this: along with Jesus’ hard words of truth were Jesus’ compassionate acts of kindness and mercy. Jesus sympathized with the feelings and sensitivities of men and women (John 11:35). Jesus served the needs of outcasts and ate and drank with the marginalized (I don’t even need to site a verse for that one because you can see it throughout the entirety of the four gospels).
Jesus was balanced. Jesus was kind and truthful. Jesus hung out with sinners and never condoned their sin. Jesus served sinners, but worshiped His Father.
We would do good to follow the example of Jesus in that as we serve the people of this world, we also communicate to them the truth. The truth that:
- Their souls are in eminent danger because of their sin.
- Their God has provided a way of salvation by sending His Son to die in their place.
- Jesus fully absorbed and put away all the Father’s righteous wrath for the sin of those would believe in Him.
- If they will turn from their sin and confess Jesus as their Lord, Savior, God and King, the Father will gather them into His arms and treat them as if they had never done any wrong. He will start transforming them immediately, make them perfect and without fault in the world to come, and He will love them with a ferocious, steadfast and unfathomable love, for all eternity.