And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
Recently, during a road trip my husband and I were listening to the Robertson’s Unashamed podcast. The topic was the concept of being “cancelled” by society. In 2014, GQ magazine contacted the Duck Dynasty patriarch, Phil Robertson, to delve into this bearded phenomenon. During the interview he was asked for the definition of sin. He went on to quote 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.1 Cor 6: 9-10
And he got cancelled. Literally. The producers put the show on hiatus – for quoting the Bible. Now, of course, we all can imagine the uproar. The media quoted Mr. Robertson as though it were his own words, calling him a homophobe and all sorts of names. Very few, in fact only a newspaper out of London, made it clear he was quoting from the Bible. As we like to say now, it was a lot of fake news. The truth was so easily accessed and so readily ignored. Here was a man who had few, if any secrets – and absolutely none about his faith journey. He was on an internationally televised show praying and preaching. And yet amazingly enough the media seemed shocked he believed in, taught, and quoted the Bible.
Jesus, in Mark 11, walks into the temple in Jerusalem and begins driving out the street vendors. When questioned by the chief priests He makes it clear what God expects from the people and the use of His temple. The priests were so frightened by the truths being spoken to the people that they wanted Jesus “cancelled.” But do you notice the last part of the sentence? “…because the whole crowd was amazed at His teaching.” The people wanted to know the true Word of God and they listened with rapt attention. It frightened those in charge of their probable loss of power over the people.
What Phil Robertson is comfortable with is teaching the true Word of God to the people. Human sin is at the beginning through the end of the Bible. And much as we might like to, we aren’t to pick and choose from which sins God has spoken. The truth of sin is written in every single book of the Bible. When our pastors and faith leaders ignore these truths, it handicaps us in our full understanding of God’s character and His expectations of us.
My husband and I were talking about this after listening to the Unashamed podcast. If we never hear that we are all sinners, we are left with the impression that maybe only some people sin or there’s various levels of sinfulness. It isn’t just “those people” who are sexually immoral, who lie, who cheat, who create false idols. It’s all of us to one extent or another. That’s the truth. I’ve never met someone in all the various Bible study and small groups that hasn’t admitted to some kind of sin. But that’s only the first step to God’s amazing truths.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth he chastised them for their lax ways related to sin, especially sexual sin. It was being justified through false teachings. And it was tearing them apart. If we don’t learn about sin how can we then learn true grace and forgiveness? I want to be on the “right side” of God – not making up my own understandings. When our faith leaders avoid uncomfortable conversations like abortion, homosexuality, infidelity, etc how then are we lay people to fully understand how to treat people with grace, love, kindness and forgiveness? All are welcome to church but what does it mean to welcome someone who is sinning right now? What does it mean to have been sexually immoral or have had an abortion and now I want to live a Christian life?
I sin constantly. When I make a commitment to God to not use His name in vain and then turn around and cuss and use coarse language I’m sinning. I have a very difficult time honoring my parents and not trashing them to my inner circle (heck, even my outer, outer circle). I encouraged a friend to have an abortion. I lived with my husband before we were married. I’m prideful. I covet. I place idols above God. None of these make me any better or worse than those who commit the sins we tend to think as the “biggies.” And yet we dance around the truth of sin and its effects on our lives and the world.
God is the Alpha and Omega. He is always complete. He is always teaching us and bringing us full circle. We need to live in that completeness. The completeness that His amazing truths, as revealed in the Bible, tell us includes opening our eyes to sin AND our hearts to grace. Grace without the “what and why” is almost meaningless. It’s like a teenager tossing a snide “sooooorrrryy.” We want that teenager to understand what was wrong about their action and why. The apology, when spoken from the heart, means so much more. If we run around tossing out blind acceptance, thinking it is love and grace, we miss out on the opportunity to really dig into God’s amazing plan for us.
I want to be held to account by God. I want to be amazed by the truths written in His Book. And if knowing and speaking those truths to fellow Christians or people asking me what God says about a topic then so be it. Because I am learning the complete truth. I am learning each day how to have open eyes tied to an open heart. His amazing truths about my sin are made complete with His amazing truths about His love.