Be in the World
Alistair Begg has taken a lot of flack from Christians over his advice to the grandmother of a transgender grandchild asking her what it would be like to do the opposite of what is expected of her and go to her grandchild’s “wedding” even taking with her, a gift.
Pastor Begg has done an incredible job of standing firm in the face of fierce criticism and for this I commend him and respect him.
What I find intriguing and frustrating is that those who claim to be Christian can so quickly cast a stone. It reveals to me, not so much our need to stand on the truth of God’s word when it comes to sexual morality, but rather the depth of wickedness of a so-called godly person’s heart when 40 years of credible, reputable, biblical teaching and preaching can be so quickly thrown under the bus for the sake of one single sentence that is uttered during an interview.
Have we who call ourselves Christian forgotten W.W.J.D.? Have we forgotten, “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”? Have we forgotten 1 Corinthians 5:12-13?
It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”
Remember the little short man in the Bible? Zacchaeus was a tax collector, the worst kind of sinner in the culture of his day. And yet he was at least curious to see this man, named Jesus. So he climbed into a tree to see Jesus as he passed by. Jesus called him down from the tree and invited himself to Zacchaeus’s house for dinner! This was a totally counter-cultural move on Jesus’ part. The significance is that it was only after Jesus’ went to be a guest at the sinner’s house, that the sinner, Zacchaeus, took action on what his heart now knew to be true about Jesus. He gave away half his possessions. In short, he made restoration for a practice that was normal procedure for tax collectors in that day. He set himself apart as holy by doing something that was completely counter-cultural. For his good deed he was rewarded by Jesus telling him that salvation had come to his house that very day.
The apostle Matthew, too, was a tax collector. Jesus called him. He followed Jesus. From the text, it seems that Matthew might have followed Jesus to Matthew’s own home where he enjoyed a meal with Matthew’s tax-collector and sinner friends.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:10-13).
Most important, Jesus’ prayer in John 17 does not ask for God to take us out of the world, quite the opposite, Jesus says he has sent us into the world and asks that God would protect us while we are in the world that we would be “sanctified by the truth of God’s word.”
We will never reach the world for Christ by shunning sinners. We will never reach the family members for whom we are praying by rejecting their invitation to participate in significant milestones in their lives. If you have lived and witnessed to your faith, they know where you stand. Go in the Spirit of God and take a blessing with you. Even the most vile of sinners can be blessed with the truth of God’s word for they were created in God’s image. Bless that. And go to the party.
Father, help us to love like you loved. Help us always to remember that while we were yet sinners, you died for us. Help us not just to remember, but to live it. So that the world may know and believe. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Alistair Begg’s grace-filled response to 21st Century Pharisees (let’s just call it what it is) can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2bmFuA40T4