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How Should We Live?

Maybe a better title for this sermon would be, “How Should We Love?”. This may seem a little strange. After all, everybody knows how to love, right? But how should we act towards those that don’t conform to our ways of thinking or values? When someone disagrees with us, how should we respond?

I offer the following scripture for consideration.

Rom 1:26-27 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Yes, we are discussing homosexuality. I deliberately chose this topic because it is such a hot button issue. Many people passionately defend this sin as an alternative lifestyle. Others, equally passionate, angrily attack it. Some people go so far as to physically assault others, thinking they are doing God’s work in the matter.

I believe the first thing we need to do is to understand this sin (and by extension all sin). And there is no question on this point, it is a sin. How do we know? Note the last word in the passage quoted above. God describes the actions as perversion. Perversion is sin. It is choosing that which is not of God’s will. We also see the word lust used twice. Hardly a positive trait.

So how did these people end up in this state? Rom 1:24 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.”

Apparently God let them go so they could pursue their own desires. And just why did God do this? Rom 1:22-23 “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

It seems idolatry was the reason. (Now keep the following in mind. While verse 23 is clearly referring to idols, an idol can be anything that comes between you and God. Camera equipment, computers, the Internet, food or anything else that is either as important or more important in your life than God is an idol.

If that football game takes precedent over God, if parties are your priority, if money is your god, you have an idol in your life and it is in between you and the one true living God. It is disrupting your relationship with Him and it needs to be dealt with. Please seek His help in dealing with it. Do not delay. It is critical that you do so!)

Just how did these people become trapped in idolatry? Rom 1:21 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Quite simply, they turned from God. He was not important to them. They felt they had better things to do than worship their creator. The result was that God allowed them to depart. He allowed their desires to rule over them. They were permitted to do whatever they wished. In this case the result being discussed is sexual immorality. In particular, homosexuality.

Rom 1:28 “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.”

Now we see that they didn’t even feel God was worth remembering. God allowed them to experience the full depravity that they had sunk to. And let us not think that this refers only to homosexuality.

Rom 1:29-32 “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

We see a wide range of sins here and it continues in Paul’s prophecy in 2 Tim 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

Boy, doesn’t this sound familiar. We see it around us everyday. Whether it is from television, radio, the movies, magazines, books or people we meet from day to day. We are immersed in worldly affairs making it difficult to say the least, for a Christian to survive in this day and age.

Now I realize these scriptures paint a very dark picture. And admittedly, I’ve made homosexuality the main focus of this sermon. Why? What would be the reason for doing so?

Many would accusing me of being homophobic, fearing or hating homosexuals. They would also call the bible hate literature for daring to speak the truth - a truth that many don’t want to hear let alone believe.

Neither statement is true. The bible, far from being hate literature, is a book of love inspired by an all powerful, all knowing, every present, loving God who wants the best for us. So much so that He was willing to put Himself into His enemy’s hands to die in order to give us a way out of the trap that Adam and Eve succumbed to so long ago.

And as for me, let me state that I don’t hate anybody. I want to see people have better in their lives and to have better lives. And I know that can only be with Jesus Christ alone. And the only way to have better is to turn from our sin and embrace God.

But that is not the point of this sermon. The question I want everyone to consider is how does one treat someone trapped in the sin of homosexuality? What should our response be to anyone trapped in sin be it homosexuality, adultery, murder or gossip?

Mat 22:35-40 “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."”

Did you see it? Jesus told us to love your neighbor as ourselves. He didn’t say, “Except for this or that…”. His command is unconditional - LOVE!

Do we respond to a homosexual with hate, anger and threats? Emphatically NO! We respond with love. To look to hurt and harm others is to depart from the Gospel of peace. It is to turn our backs on God. To respond in love is to embrace God. It is to live the Gospel of peace, not simple preach it.

We MUST treat people with love no matter what the sin that we encounter. Now I realize what I am asking of you and how difficult it is. As I said at the beginning, many people are passionate on this subject. But we cannot, must not turn our backs on anyone that is trapped in sin regardless of what it might be.

Right now, you might be thinking that this idea is crazy. After all, these people don’t listen to God. They defy Him. Does this mean they are less deserving of God’s love than you or I? No, of course not.

Look, think of it this way. How many times have you convinced somebody to change their position by attacking them? Does screaming at people and hurting them bring them over to your way of thinking? Nope, it sure doesn’t. If anything, they become more firmly entrenched in their position.

Hate does not change the world because the world is filled with hate! Hate keeps things the same. What changes the world and transforms lives is the love of Christ expressed in a non-threatening manner.

We must learn to live in Agape love, the love God tells us about in 1 Cor 13.

1 Cor 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

Do you see the important of love in the first three verses? To act without love is to gain nothing. Without love, we have nothing.

1 Cor 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Do you see what love is here? Always positive, always nurturing, always uplifting and always edifying, never giving up. The complete opposite of hatred. Love builds and strengthens, hate destroys.

1 Cor 13:8-13 “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

When all is said and done, when everything else has passed away, faith, hope and love remain with love being the greatest of all. And look at the beginning of verse 8, love never fails!

How could anyone not respond to such an expression and exercise of agape love? I can’t see how they could reject this kind of love. Quite the opposite, they would be attracted to God and to a better way of life!

We are not called to simply preach Christianity, we are called to live it through love and fellowship in Jesus Christ and to express that love, not only within the body of Jesus but without as well. Love builds bridges, love heals and love preaches the Gospel more effectively than any words.

And if you want proof, witness the relief effort in Indonesia by Christian groups after the tsunami. They did not preach through words, they just let the love of Christ show through their actions. And when they were asked why they came to help without recompense, their response was that Jesus loves them and they were there to show that love.

So when you do come across someone that practices a sin which you may find exceedingly distasteful, take some time and consider how you should treat them. Should you shun them with hostility or love them as God loves them, as He loves you?

Whether homosexual or gossip, I say love them as Jesus told us to do. Help them to heal while comforting them. And what better way than love to celebrate Jesus?

In His name…

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